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Encyclopedia > Solstice
UTC date and time of solstices and equinoxes[1]
year Equinox
Mar
Solstice
June
Equinox
Sept
Solstice
Dec
day time day time day time day time
2002 20 19:16 21 13:24 23 04:55 22 01:14
2003 21 01:00 21 19:10 23 10:47 22 07:04
2004 20 06:49 21 00:57 22 16:30 21 12:42
2005 20 12:33 21 06:46 22 22:23 21 18:35
2006 20 18:26 21 12:26 23 04:03 22 00:22
2007 21 00:07 21 18:06 23 09:51 22 06:08
2008 20 05:48 20 23:59 22 15:44 21 12:04
2009 20 11:44 21 05:45 22 21:18 21 17:47
2010 20 17:32 21 11:28 23 03:09 21 23:38
2011 20 23:21 21 17:16 23 09:04 22 05:30
2012 20 05:14 20 23:09 22 14:49 21 11:11
2013 20 11:02 21 05:04 22 20:44 21 17:11
2014 20 16:57 21 10:51 23 02:29 21 23:03

Solstices occur twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is oriented directly towards or away from the Sun, causing the Sun to reach its northernmost and southernmost extremes. The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill. Solstice may refer to: solstice, an astronomical phenomenon, marking the seasons. ... The summer solstice also known as the summer alignment may refer to: Summer solstice Summer Solstice: Bee Stings Summer Solstice (album) or these solstice celebrations: Xiazhi (夏至), solar term in East Asia. ... ... For other uses, see Equinox (disambiguation). ... Sol redirects here. ... For other uses, see Latins and Latin (disambiguation). ... In astronomy, declination (abbrev. ...


The term solstice can also be used in a wider sense, as the date (day) that such a passage happens. The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons. In some languages they are considered to start or separate the seasons; in others they are considered to be centre points (in English, in the Northern hemisphere, for example, the period around the June solstice is known as midsummer, and Midsummer's Day is 24 June, about three days after the solstice itself). Similarly 25 December is the start of the Christmas celebration, which was a Pagan festival in pre-Christian times, and is the day the sun begins to return back to the northern hemisphere. For other uses, see Equinox (disambiguation). ... Midsummer may refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the diverse celebrations of it around the world, but more often refers to European celebrations that accompany the summer solstice, or to Western festivals that take place in June and are usually related to Saint John... is the 175th day of the year (176th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation). ... Pagan may refer to: A believer in Paganism or Neopaganism Bagan, a city in Myanmar also known as Pagan Pagan (album), the 6th album by Celtic metal band Cruachan Pagan Island, of the Northern Mariana Islands Pagan Lorn, a metal band from Luxembourg, Europe (1994-1998) Pagans Mind, is...

Contents

Heliocentric view of the seasons

The cause of the seasons is that the Earth's axis of rotation is not perpendicular to its orbital plane (the flat plane made through the center of mass (barycenter) of the solar system (near or within the Sun) and the successive locations of Earth during the year), but currently makes an angle of about 23.44° (called the "obliquity of the ecliptic"), and that the axis keeps its orientation with respect to inertial space. As a consequence, for half the year (from around 20 March to 22 September) the northern hemisphere tips to the Sun, with the maximum around 21 June, while for the other half year the southern hemisphere has this distinction, with the maximum around 21 December. The two moments when the inclination of Earth's rotational axis has maximum effect are the solstices. In physics, the center of mass of a system of particles is a specific point at which, for many purposes, the systems mass behaves as if it was concentrated. ... The Obliquity of the ecliptic is the angle between the plane of the Earths equator and the ecliptic plane in which the Earth rotates around the Sun. ... In physics, the expression inertial space refers to the background reference that is provided by the phenomenon of inertia. ... is the 79th day of the year (80th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 265th day of the year (266th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


The table at the top of the article gives the instances of equinoxes and solstices over several years. Refer to the equinox article for some remarks. For other uses, see Equinox (disambiguation). ...


During the northern solstice the Sun appears to be directly overhead at noon for places situated at latitude 23.44° north, known as the tropic of Cancer. Likewise during the southern solstice the same thing happens for latitude 23.44° south, known as the tropic of Capricorn. All places on Earth in between these two latitudes are known as the tropics and will see the Sun in the zenith at least two days in the year. For the novel by Henry Miller, see Tropic of Cancer (novel). ... World map showing the Tropic of Capricorn For the novel by Henry Miller, see Tropic of Capricorn (novel). ... A noontime scene from the Philippines on a day when the Sun is almost directly overhead. ... In broad terms, the zenith is the direction pointing directly above a particular location (perpendicular, orthogonal). ...


Also during the northern solstice places situated at latitude 66.56° north, known as the Arctic Circle will see the Sun just on the horizon during midnight, and all places north of it will see the Sun above horizon for 24 hours. That is the midnight sun or midsummer-night sun or polar day. On the other hand, places at latitude 66.56° south, known as the Antarctic Circle will see the Sun just on the horizon during midday, and all places south of it will not see the Sun above horizon at any time of the day. That is the polar night. During the southern solstice the effects on both hemispheres are just the opposite. For the fast food restaurant chain, see Arctic Circle Restaurants. ... The midnight sun at Nordkapp, Norway. ... Zoomable PDF of the map this is based on The Antarctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. ... The polar night is the night lasting more than 24 hours, usually inside the polar circles. ...

Two images showing the amount of reflected sunlight at southern and northern summer solstices respectively (watts / m²).
Two images showing the amount of reflected sunlight at southern and northern summer solstices respectively (watts / ).

At the temperate latitudes, during summer the Sun remains longer and higher above the horizon, while in winter it remains shorter and lower. This is the cause of summer heat and winter cold. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (540x635, 167 KB) [edit] Summary [edit] Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (540x635, 167 KB) [edit] Summary [edit] Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... For other uses, see Watt (disambiguation). ... A square metre (US spelling: square meter) is by definition the area enclosed by a square with sides each 1 metre long. ... For the usage in virology, see temperate (virology). ...

Further information: effect of sun angle on climate

The seasons are not caused by the varying distance of Earth to the Sun due to the orbital eccentricity of the Earth's orbit. This variation does make such a contribution, but is small compared to the effects of exposure because of Earth's tilt. Currently the Earth reaches perihelion at the beginning of January, which is during the northern winter and the southern summer. The Sun, being closer to Earth and therefore hotter, does not cause the whole planet to enter summer. Although it is true that the northern winter is somewhat warmer than the southern winter, the placement of the continents, ice-covered Antarctica in particular, may also play an important factor. In the same way, during aphelion at the beginning of July, the Sun is farther away, but that still leaves the northern summer and southern winter as they are with only minor effects. Figure 1 This is a diagram of the seasons. ... (This page refers to eccitricity in astrodynamics. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ...


Due to Milankovitch cycles, the Earth's axial tilt and orbital eccentricity will change over thousands of years. Thus in 10,000 years one would find that Earth's northern winter occurs at aphelion and its northern summer at perihelion. The severity of seasonal change — the average temperature difference between summer and winter in location — will also change over time because the Earth's axial tilt fluctuates between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees.
Milankovitch cycles are the collective effect of changes in the Earths movements upon its climate, named after Serbian civil engineer and mathematician Milutin Milanković. The eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earths orbit vary in several patterns, resulting in 100,000 year ice age cycles of the... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ...


Geocentric view of the seasons

Day arcs at 0° latitude, equator
Day arcs at 0° latitude, equator
Day arcs at 20° latitude
Day arcs at 20° latitude
Day arcs at 50° latitude
Day arcs at 50° latitude
Day arcs at 70° latitude
Day arcs at 70° latitude
Day arcs at 90° latitude, pole
Day arcs at 90° latitude, pole

The explanation given in the previous section is useful for observers in outer space. They would see how the Earth revolves around the Sun and how the distribution of sunlight on the planet would change over the year. To observers on Earth, it is also useful to see how the Sun seems to revolve around them. These pictures show such a perspective as follows. They show the day arcs of the Sun, the paths the Sun tracks along the celestial dome in its diurnal movement. The pictures show this for every hour on both solstice days. The longer arc is always the summer track and the shorter one the winter track. The two tracks are at a distance of 46.88° (2 × 23.44°) away from each other. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 298 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 298 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 282 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 282 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 289 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 289 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 296 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 296 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 256 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2000x1500, 256 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Solstice ... Diurnal motion is an astronomical term referring to the apparent daily motion of stars in orbit around the Earth, caused by the Earths rotation around its axis. ...


In addition, some 'ghost' suns are indicated below the horizon, as much as 18° down. The Sun in this area causes twilight. The pictures can be used for both the northern and southern hemispheres. The observer is supposed to sit near the tree on the island in the middle of the ocean. The green arrows give the cardinal directions. For other uses, see Twilight (disambiguation). ...

  • On the northern hemisphere the north is to the left, the Sun rises in the east (far arrow), culminates in the south (to the right) while moving to the right and sets in the west (near arrow). Both rise and set positions are displaced towards the north in summer, and towards the south for the winter track.
  • On the southern hemisphere the south is to the left, the Sun rises in the east (near arrow), culminates in the north (to the right) while moving to the left and sets in the west (far arrow). Both rise and set positions are displaced towards the south in summer, and towards the north for the winter track.

The following special cases are depicted. In astronomy, the culmination, at a given point, of a planet, star, constellation, etc. ...

  • On the equator the Sun is not overhead every day, as some people think. In fact that happens only on two days of the year, the equinoxes. The solstices are the dates that the Sun stays farthest away from the zenith, only reaching an altitude of 66.56° either to the north or the south. The only thing special about the equator is that all days of the year, solstices included, have roughly the same length of about 12 hours, so that it makes no sense to talk about summer and winter. Instead, tropical areas often have wet and dry seasons.
  • The day arcs at 20° latitude. The Sun culminates at 46.56° altitude in winter and 93.44° altitude in summer. In this case an angle larger than 90° means that the culmination takes place at an altitude of 86.56° in the opposite cardinal direction. For example in the southern hemisphere, the Sun remains in the north during winter, but can reach over the zenith to the south in midsummer. Summer days are longer than winter days, but the difference is no more than two or three hours. The daily path of the Sun is steep at the horizon the whole year round, resulting in a twilight of only about one hour.
  • The day arcs at 50° latitude. The winter Sun does not rise more than 16.56° above the horizon at midday, and 63.44° in summer above the same horizon direction. The difference in the length of the day between summer and winter is striking. Likewise is the difference in direction of sunrise and sunset. Also note the different steepness of the daily path of the Sun above the horizon in summer and winter. It is much shallower in winter. Therefore not only is the Sun not reaching as high, it also seems not to be in a hurry to do so. But conversely this means that in summer the Sun is not in a hurry to dip deeply below the horizon at night. At this latitude at midnight the summer sun is only 16.56° below the horizon, which means that astronomical twilight continues the whole night. This phenomenon is known as the grey nights, nights when it does not get dark enough for astronomers to do their observations. Above 60° latitude the Sun would be even closer to the horizon, only 6.56° away from it. Then civil twilight continues the whole night. This phenomenon is known as the white nights. And above 66° latitude, of course, one would get the midnight sun.
  • The day arcs at 70° latitude. At local noon the winter Sun culminates at −3.44°, and the summer Sun at 43.44°. Said another way, during the winter the Sun does not rise above the horizon, it is the polar night. There will be still a strong twilight though. At local midnight the summer Sun culminates at 3.44°, said another way, it does not set, it is the polar day.
  • The day arcs at the pole. All the time the Sun is 23.44° above or below the horizon, depending on whether it is the summer or winter solstice. In the latter case, that is enough to not even have any twilight. All directions are north at the South Pole and south at the North pole. There is also no south at the South Pole, no north at the North Pole, and neither east nor west is discernible at either pole.

Due to atmospheric refraction, the Sun may already appear above the horizon when the real, geometric Sun is still below it. World map showing the equator in red For other uses, see Equator (disambiguation). ... In broad terms, the zenith is the direction pointing directly above a particular location (perpendicular, orthogonal). ... An astronomer or astrophysicist is a scientist whose area of research is astronomy or astrophysics. ... The midnight sun at Nordkapp, Norway. ... Atmospheric refraction is the deviation of light or other electromagnetic wave from a straight line as it passes through the atmosphere due to the variation in air density as a function of altitude. ...


Cultural aspects

Many cultures celebrate various combinations of the winter and summer solstices, the equinoxes, and the midpoints between them, leading to various holidays arising around these events. For the December solstice, Christmas is the most popular holiday to have arisen. In addition, Yalda, Saturnalia, Karachun, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Yule (see winter solstice for more) are also celebrated around this time. For the June solstice, Catholic and Nordic Protestant cultures celebrate the feast of St. John from June 23 to June 24 (see St. John's Eve, Ivan Kupala Day, Midsummer), while the Wiccan culture observes Litha or Summer Solstice. For the vernal (spring) equinox, several spring-time festivals are celebrated, such as the observance in Judaism of Passover. The autumnal equinox has also given rise to various holidays, such as the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. At the midpoints between these four solar events, cross-quarter days are celebrated. For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation). ... A variety of foodstuff that are consumed on Yalda Yaldā also known as Shab-e Cheleh is celebrated on the eve of the first day of the winter (December 21) in the Iranian calendar, which falls on the Winter Solstice. ... For other uses, see Saturnalia (disambiguation). ... Karachun, Korochun or Kračún is a Slavic version of Halloween as a day when the Black God and other evil spirits are most potent. ... Grand Rabbi Israel Abraham Portugal of Skulen Hasidism lighting Hanukkah lights Hanukkah (‎, alt. ... Kwanzaa (or Kwaanza) is a week-long Pan-African festival primarily honoring African-American heritage. ... For other uses, see Yule (disambiguation) and Jul (disambiguation). ... This article is about the astronomical and cultural event of winters solstice, also known as midwinter. ... For the hip-hop producer with the same name, see John the Baptist (producer). ... is the 174th day of the year (175th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 175th day of the year (176th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The evening of June 23, St. ... Night on the Eve of Ivan Kupala, by Henryk Hector Siemiradzki. ... Midsummer may refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the diverse celebrations of it around the world, but more often refers to European celebrations that accompany the summer solstice, or to Western festivals that take place in June and are usually related to Saint John... For other uses, see Wicca (disambiguation). ... Litha, the entire light half of the year, is centered upon Midsummer, with which it is easily identified, so that the summer solstice holiday is often referred to as Litha, especially in the recreated calendar used in the revived Germanic religion of Asatru. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article is about the Jewish holiday. ... Sukkot (Hebrew:  ; booths. ... A cross-quarter day is a day falling halfway between one of the four main solar events (two solstices and two equinoxes) and the next one. ...


In many cultures the solstices and equinoxes traditionally determine the midpoint of the seasons, which can be seen in the celebrations called midsummer and midwinter. Along this vein, the Japanese celebrate the start of each season with an occurrence known as Setsubun. In modern western culture, the solstices and equinoxes are instead designated the beginning of each season,[citation needed] as the cumulative cooling and warming that result from the tilt of the planet become most pronounced after the solstices. This article is about divisions of a year. ... Midsummer may refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the diverse celebrations of it around the world, but more often refers to European celebrations that accompany the summer solstice, or to Western festivals that take place in June and are usually related to Saint John... Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of the northern winter solstice In astronomy, the winter solstice is the moment when the earth is at a point in its orbit where one hemisphere is most inclined away from the sun. ... Setsubun, Tokuan shrine In Japan, Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of each season. ...


In the Hindu calendar, two sidereal solstices are named Uttarayana and Dakshinayana. The former occurs around January 14 each year, while the latter occurs around July 14 each year. These mark the movement of the Sun along a sidereally fixed zodiac (precession is ignored) into Mesha, a zodiacal sign which corresponded with Aries about 285, and into Tula, the opposite zodiacal sign which corresponded with Libra about 285. A page from the Hindu calendar 1871-72. ... For the kite-flying festival, see Makar Sankranti Uttarāyana (उत्तरायण) is the six month period between Makar Sankranti around (January 14) and Karka Sankranti around (July 14), when the Sun travels towards north on the celestial sphere. ... is the 14th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 195th day of the year (196th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Zodiac (disambiguation). ... The precession of Earths axis of rotation with respect to inertial space is also called the precession of the equinoxes. ... Aries, the ram, is the first astrological sign of the zodiac and its origins are from the Aries constellation. ... This article is about the year. ... The golden scales Libra is the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Libra. ... This article is about the year. ...


See also

Midsummer may refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the diverse celebrations of it around the world, but more often refers to European celebrations that accompany the summer solstice, or to Western festivals that take place in June and are usually related to Saint John... This article is about the astronomical and cultural event of winters solstice, also known as midwinter. ...

References and external links

Look up solstice in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Solstices

Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ...

Calculations, plots and tables

Aerial view of USNO. The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States. ...

Debate about season start

Dr. Philip Plait (a. ... Cecil Adams is the pen name of the author of The Straight Dope since 1973, a popular question and answer column published in The Chicago Reader, syndicated in thirty newspapers in the United States and Canada, and available online. ...

Pictures and videos

A tropical year is the length of time that the Sun, as viewed from the Earth, takes to return to the same position along the ecliptic (its path among the stars on the celestial sphere). ... For other uses, see Equinox (disambiguation). ... This article is about days of the week. ... This article details various mathematical algorithms to calculate the day of the week for any particular date in the past or future. ... The days of the year are sometimes designated letters A, B, C, D, E, F and G in a cycle of 7 as an aid for finding the day of week of a given calendar date and in calculating Easter. ... The International Commission on Stratigraphy concerns itself with stratigraphy on a global scale. ... Diagram of geological time scale. ... Dating material drawn from the archaeological record can made by a direct study of a artifact or may be deduced by association with materials found in the context the item is drawn from or inferred by its point of discovery in the sequence relative to datable contexts. ... The precession of Earths axis of rotation with respect to inertial space is also called the precession of the equinoxes. ... Sidereal time is time measured by the apparent diurnal motion of the vernal equinox, which is very close to, but not identical with, the motion of stars. ... // Galactic time NGC 4414, a typical spiral galaxy alike our Milky Way Galactic time, not to confuse with siderial time, is the time that is described by our spin relative to the center of the galaxy. ... Look up fortnight in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The term jiffy (or jiffie) is used in different applications for various different short periods of time, usually 1/60 of a second. ... Lustrum was a sacrifice for expiation and purification offered by one of the censors of Rome in name of the Roman people at the close of the taking of the census, and which took place after a period of five years, so that the name came to denote a period... A saeculum is a length of time roughly equal to the lifetime of a person, or about 90 years. ... A shake is an informal unit of time equal to 10 nanoseconds, or 10-8 seconds. ... A tide is an obsolete or archaic term for time, period or season, such as eventide, shrovetide, Eastertide, etc. ... For the novel by Michael Crichton, see Timeline (novel). ... A duration is an amount of time or a particular time interval. ... In computer science and computer programming, system time represents a computer systems notion of the passing of time. ... // Definition and history Psychologists have investigated mental chronometry for over 100 years. ... The time value of money is the premise that an investor prefers to receive a payment of a fixed amount of money today, rather than an equal amount in the future, all else being equal. ... Look up timekeeper in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

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