Summer Solstice: What the First Day of Summer Looks Like From Space

So much sun. 

June 21 is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, which means it’s literally going to be a long day, as it’s the time of year when the northern half of Earth is tilted toward the sun to get the maximum amount of sunlight.

A NASA video taken by EUMESTAT’s Meteosat-9 weather satellite in 2011 offers a clear view at how the equinoxes and solstices look from space. It starts with the fall equinox, which at the time of the video was September 19. The equinox is the time of year when solar terminator, the “edge” between day and night, is perpendicular to the equator showing the Earth is half in darkness and half in light. (During the winter solstice, the planet tilts to where the northern hemisphere is angled away from the sun, hence the shorter days of the winter and long summer days in the Southern hemisphere.) The video ends on June 21, the summer solstice, showing how much more sunlight the northern hemisphere gets along with the hotter weather.

Satellite view of the Earth during equinoxes and solstices.


It’s a common misconception that the seasons are due to the Earth’s distance from the sun as it revolves around it, but that’s not the case. In fact, January in the United States is the month when it’s the closest, at approximately 91 million miles. In comparison, July is the time of year when Earth is the farthest away with a few more million miles, putting it approximately 94 million miles away.

What makes the seasons happen is the Earth’s axis. It’s titled 23.5 degrees and over the course of the year, due to that angle, the Northern or Southern Hemisphere is tilted toward or away from the sun. When one hemisphere is angled away, it will experience a winter while the other has its summer and vice versa.

For those who had to stay inside for work during the summer solstice, the sun will probably still be outside shining when it’s quitting time.

Sunshine is not only a good source of Vitamin D, it’s also a source of good vibes. More daylight cues the body’s circadian rhythm to release more hormones to wake a person up and put them in a better mood, which makes the summer solstice one of the happiest days of the year.

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