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Summer Solstice 2013: Interesting Facts to Know About the Solstice

Update Date: Jun 21, 2013 10:28 PM EDT
Stonehedge
A file photo of Stonehedge, a historic monument in Wiltshire, England, which is mysteriously aligned with the sunset of the Summer solstice. (Photo : Reuters)

The Summer Solstice 2013 is here, June 21, when at 05:04 UTC (01:04 a.m. EDT), the Sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky, and leaving us with the longest day of the year.

Since the Summer solstice happens in the middle of the night here in the United States, that means Thursday and Friday are about the same length.

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It's hard to find a lot of information about the origins of the Summer Solstice or "equinox." According to Timeanddate.com, "In ancient times, the date of the June solstice was an important source to help people manage their calendars and organize when to plant and harvest crops." The website adds that this is the traditional time of the year for weddings.

"In ancient China, the summer solstice," they report, "was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the earth, femininity, and the "yin" forces. It complemented the winter solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and "yang" forces." Other cultures have different celebrations or exact meanings of the celebration but many refer to femininity and fertility.

Another interesting fact about this year's summer solstice is that will be followed shortly after by the largest "supermoon" of the year. In the early hours of Sunday, June 23, the moon will officially reach its full phase and will be the closest to Earth that it will be all year.

The solstices are the results of Earth's north-south axis being tilted 23.4 degrees relative to the ecliptic, the plane of our solar system. This tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet during Earth's yearlong orbit around the sun.

 The Summer solstice not only marks the beginning of Summer in the north but the beginning of Winter in the southern hemisphere.

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