• Moiya McTier

Astronomy Fun Fact #68

Happy Solstice, friends!

I'm in the northern hemisphere, where I'll be celebrating the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. But my friends in the southern hemisphere will be celebrating the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. To explain the solstice, I'll use the northern hemisphere as an example, so you can flip all of the directions to apply what I say to the south.

The word solstice comes from the latin words sol (meaning "Sun") and sistere (meaning "to stand still").

As we move from winter to summer in the north, the Sun appears to move higher and higher in the sky, meaning it appears to move towards the north pole. (The Sun's not actually moving up and down, but we're moving around it with a tilted axis.) On the summer solstice, the Earth's tilted axis is directly facing the Sun, so the Sun is as high in the sky as it will get. After that, we start moving towards winter, so the days get shorter and the Sun gets lower in the sky.

BUT on the solstice, when the Sun reaches the apex of its path on the sky, it appears to "stand still."

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