Summer Solstice is the Longest Day

Summer Solstice is the Longest Day

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Today, June 21, is the first day of summer- astronomically. Some people call it the longest day but the day itself is still 24 hours. The start date of seasons is based on the tilt of the Earth's axis, compared to the sun, in Earth's annual orbit around the sun. Today, the northern hemisphere is tilted the most toward the sun than at any other time of the year.

That means longer hours of daylight; the highest sun angle; and a more intense sun for all points in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the North Pole is in the middle of 3 months of continuous daylight while the South Pole is in the midst of 3 months of darkness.

While the North Pole gets 24 hours of daylight, that amount decreases as you travel southward. Here in Mobile, we get 14 hours and 8 minutes of daylight today. Six months from now, on the winter solstice, our daylight hours shrink to 10 hours and 10 minutes. The change in daylight is very gradual daily. The next several days won't be dramatically different in length than today.

You might wonder that if today is the day when we get the most sunlight, why is it that early August is the hottest time of the year. While daylight slowly diminishes, we still continue to receive tremendous amounts of heat from the sun that build up day after day. It's like heating a pot of water on high, and then turning the heat down before it boils. Even with a lower heat, the water will still boil later.

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