Written by Kelly Herbst, Astronomy Curator for the Virginia Living Museum. Updated every two weeks, more or less.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There's 104 days of summer vacation...

...and it all officially began yesterday!


Yesterday was the official first day of summer, with the season truly beginning at precisely 7:09pm.  More significantly, perhaps, yesterday, June 20, was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

By rights, I should have posted yesterday, but the day conspired against me.  You see, I'm teaching summer camps again, and yesterday was the Virginia Living Museum's annual meeting, so I was tied up all day and...

Oh, what?  You're thought it was today, didn't you? 

Let me explain.

Most years, the equinoxes and solstices fall on the 21st of the months they occur in.  So usually, summer begins on June 21.  But this year is a leap year...meaning there was an extra day to count in February.  That extra day in February is something we humans add to the calendar...the Earth doesn't care what day it is on the calendar.  It just keeps on moving and doing its thing.  So this year, because of the extra day in February, the solstice arrived on June 20.

Sunrise at Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice.  This image was take in 2005.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

So happy summer.  Go outside, if you can stand the heat, and have yourself a double dip ice cream cone to celebrate.  Heck, with these temperatures, make it a triple.

I'm super crazy busy with summer camps, so I'm going to keep this one short.  See you in (about) two weeks!

Carpe noctem (what little there is of it!)

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