You may or may not know that June 20 is the 2012 summer solstice. You have probably heard the words summer solstice a few hundred times in your life, but do you actually know what the term means? Let Martha's Vineyard Patch be your dictionary.
On the most basic level, the summer solstice is the first day of summer.
Yes that's right, spring does span into June, and high school summer vacation technically starts before the season it is named for.
The reason it's the first day of summer is where defining the solstice becomes a bit complicated. Many people refer to the summer solstice as the longest day of the year. Of course there are no more than 24 hours that separate June 19 and June 21, 2012. It's the sunlight that counts.
On the day of the summer solstice, the earth's axial tilt is inclined toward the sun more than any other day of the year. Technically speaking, the tilt on this day peaks at 23° 26'. Because of this, there is a maximum of sunlight seconds on the day of the summer solstice.
In this year, the sun rose at 5:08 a.m. and will set at 8:19 p.m. according to sunrisesunset.com. By the end of summer, the sun will rise at 6:06 a.m. and set at 7:17 p.m.
Careful not to mark your calendar for a June 20 celebration every year though, as the solstice can change slightly with our 365-day year not perfectly matching the universe's plan for planetary permutation. Next year, for example, the summer solstice will be on June 21.
Any waterfront restaurant would be a great place to take in the most direct sunlight of the year.
Are you doing anything to celebrate the most sunlight of the year? Tell us in the comments and happy summer solstice!