June 20th, 2008
Today is the first day of Summer here in North America. Â The sun will shine longer today than any other day this year. Â But one must not forget about the rest of the world. Â Those on the other side of our planet are experiencing the direct opposite; the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year.
So, by way of review here are the many names of the solstice. Â This being copied directly from Wikipedia.
- SummerÂ solsticeÂ andÂ winterÂ solsticeÂ are the most common names. However, these can be ambiguous since seasons of theÂ northern hemisphereÂ andÂ southern hemisphereÂ are opposites, and the summer solstice of one hemisphere is the winter solstice of the other.
- Northern solsticeÂ andÂ southern solsticeÂ indicate the direction of the sun’s movement. The northern solstice is inÂ JuneÂ onÂ Earth, when the sun is directly over theÂ Tropic of CancerÂ in theÂ Northern Hemisphere, and the southern solstice is inÂ December, when the sun is directly over theÂ Tropic of CapricornÂ in theÂ Southern Hemisphere.
- JuneÂ solsticeÂ andÂ DecemberÂ solsticeÂ are an alternative to the more common “summer” and “winter” terms, but without the ambiguity for which hemisphere they are intended. They are still not universal, however, as not all people on Earth use a solar-based calendar where the solstices occur every year in the same month (as they do not in theÂ Hebrew calendar, for example), and the names are also not useful for other planets (Mars, for example), even though these planets do have seasons.
- First point ofÂ CancerÂ andÂ first point ofÂ Capricorn. One disadvantage of these names is that, due to theÂ precession of the equinoxes, theastrological signsÂ where these solstices are located no longer correspond with the actualÂ constellations.
- TaurusÂ solsticeÂ andÂ SagittariusÂ solsticeÂ are names that indicate in which constellations the two solstices are currently located. These terms are not widely used, though, and until December 1989 the first solstice was inÂ Gemini, according to officialÂ IAUÂ boundaries.
- TheÂ LatinÂ namesÂ Hibernal solsticeÂ (winter), andÂ Aestival solsticeÂ (summer) are sometimes used.