The Summer Solstice

Today marks the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.  At 6:09 PM CDT the Sun’s direct rays will be located over the Tropic of Cancer which is approximately at 23.5 degrees north latitude.  If you were standing at that point at solar noon (which is rarely 12:00 PM) you would not cast a shadow as the Sun would be directly overhead.

The only location in the United States where you could observe this phenomenon during the year would be in Hawaii as all the main islands are south of 23.5 degrees.  Key West, Florida comes close, but that location is at approximately 24.5 degrees north, so although you would cast only a tiny shadow, the Sun would be at 89 degrees above the horizon today, not quite the 90 degrees necessary to be directly overhead at solar noon.

In Fargo Moorhead, the Sun will reach 66.5 degrees above the horizon today, the highest of the year and this is in stark contrast to the Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun will peak at only 19.5 degrees.

As strange as it may sound, on my bucket list is to be in a location where the sun is directly overhead someday at solar noon and have a picture taken.  Someday.

6 thoughts on “The Summer Solstice

  1. How come the summer and winter solstices and the spring equinox occurr on the 20th or 21st of the month and the fall equinox occurs on the 22nd or 23rd (two days later)? Summer is 94 days and fall is only 90 days.

  2. Your numbers are astronomical dates, generally we use the more logical meteorological dates (Summer being the three warmest months of June through August, so 92 days of summer and 91 days of Autumn from September through November, 90 days of Winter, December through February, the three coldest months (excluding leap years, and 92 days of Spring), but either way, the reason is the earth revolves around the sun in an ellipse and the earth is farthest from the sun in the summer time, which means, the earth is traveling the slowest in the summer and fastest during the winter. Therefore, we get an extra few days during the warm season (March through September) over the cold seasons from September through March. Hope that helps.

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