It's summer solstice time. What does that mean?

The summer solstice occurs for Earth’s upper half when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted most closely toward the sun

Published - June 21, 2024 05:54 am IST - Dallas

The moon rises behind Stonehenge, on June 20, 2024 in Wiltshire, England. On the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rises in perfect alignment with the Heel Stone and Altar Stone of Stonehenge’s 5000-year-old circle. This alignment shows the ancient builders’ understanding of the solar calendar and suggests Stonehenge may have served as a calendar or temple for important dates and events - a tradition that continues to be marked each year.

The moon rises behind Stonehenge, on June 20, 2024 in Wiltshire, England. On the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rises in perfect alignment with the Heel Stone and Altar Stone of Stonehenge’s 5000-year-old circle. This alignment shows the ancient builders’ understanding of the solar calendar and suggests Stonehenge may have served as a calendar or temple for important dates and events - a tradition that continues to be marked each year. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

It's time for the start of summer — with a full moon to boot.

Here's what to know about the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20.

What is the summer solstice?

The Earth spins on a tilt as it revolves around the sun. The summer solstice occurs for Earth's upper half when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted most closely toward the sun. This also marks the longest day and shortest night of the year.

Around the same time, the Southern Hemisphere is at its most extreme tilt away from the sun, entering winter solstice and its shortest day of the year.

Six months later, the halves will switch it up: The Northern Hemisphere will experience a winter solstice, and the Southern Hemisphere will have a summer solstice.

What is an equinox?

Equinoxes mark the start of spring and autumn, and happen when Earth's axis and orbit line up such that both hemispheres get an equal amount of sunlight.

The vernal equinox on March 19 kicked off spring, and the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22 will usher in fall.

What is the strawberry moon?

This year's summer solstice comes with a treat: the first full moon of the summer, coined the strawberry moon. The moon won't be pink or red in color: Its name comes from several Indigenous tribes who noticed that its timing coincided with the strawberry harvest.

On Friday evening, cast your eyes to the southeast to glimpse the full moon peeking above the horizon.

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