Watching the Skies: Astronomical summer nears

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Even though it has felt like mid-summer for several weeks now, astronomical summer will officially begin this weekend. 

This year’s summer solstice will arrive at 11:32 p.m. June 20. Summer will begin in the Northern Hemisphere and winter will begin in the Southern Hemisphere.

Seasons are created because of how the Earth is tilted on its axis. At the winter solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. The opposite is true during the summer solstice, when the North Pole is tilted most directly toward the sun. 

The earliest sunrises and the latest sunsets take place at this time of year. The sun also takes the longest amount of time to rise and set at the solstice. This is because the sun rises and sets farthest north at the solstice; the shallower angle of the sun leads to a longer amount of time required to sink beneath the horizon or rise above it. 

Even though we can’t physically see the solstice taking place, keep your eyes open for the sun to be farthest north at sunrise and sunset, and enjoy a few extra moments of the sun sinking and rising.

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