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The summer solstice, also known as midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight.
See the fact file below for more information on the summer solstice or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Summer Solstice worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HISTORY OF SUMMER SOLSTICE
- Many civilizations have observed the sun’s northern and southern travels for more than 5,000 years, including Egyptians and Celts.
- Many monuments around the world were constructed in order to take note of the sun’s passing:
- Stonehenge, England
The sun shines directly into the centre of the altar, and shines overhead the monument.
- Chankillo, Peru
Its 13 towers span the entire annual rising and setting of the sun.
- Karnak, Egypt
The solstice sunrise appears through the entryway of the temple of Karnak.
- Ajanta Caves, India
The sunrise on the solstice penetrates a cave and shines directly on a statue of Buddha.
- Stonehenge, England
- These sacred sites were once the work of prehistoric civilizations that relied on the sun and stars.
- By studying these sites, we can uncover and begin to understand their vast spiritual wisdom.
- The summer solstice was historically a time for celebrating the beginning of summer and the end of spring.
- Solstice comes from the Latin words “sol”, meaning “sun”, and “sistere”, meaning “to stand still”.
SCIENCE BEHIND THE SUMMER SOLSTICE
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is on June 21st, and is when the sun travels along the longest path through the sky, giving the Northern Hemisphere more daylight.
- This is the day when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun, directly above the Tropic of Cancer; the winter solstice occurs when the Earth’s axis is tilted furthest away from the sun.
- Due to the sun’s position in the sky, the solstice is known as being the longest day of the year.
- The maximum axial tilt towards the sun is 23.44 degrees, which is known as the “Tropic of Cancer”.
- Astronomers can calculate an exact moment of the solstice; this moment varies from year to year.
- The Earth’s atmosphere can bend light over the horizon by different amounts, depending on the weather, which can change the sunrise and sunset times by up to an entire minute.
- The Latinate name of “estival solstice” is sometimes used when discussing the summer solstice, as well as the term “midsummer”.
- During the summer solstice, places in the Arctic Circle may only see the sun on the horizon at midnight, and all places north of it will see the sun above the horizon for a full 24 hours.
- Conversely, in the Antarctic Circle, people may see the sun just on the horizon at midday, and all places south of that will not see the sun above the horizon at all. These events are known as “polar night”.
- The summer solstice lasts until the autumnal equinox, which occurs on September 22nd or 23rd in the Northern Hemisphere.
OTHER FACTS ABOUT THE SUMMER SOLSTICE
- The summer solstice is a sacred time of year for celebrating rebirth, growth, warmth, and harmony.
- Many ancient sites that have worshipped the solstice (both summer and winter) have been around for at least 12,000 years (and possibly longer). They were usually made using megaliths, which are large stones weighing dozens, if not several hundreds of tons.
- Sites that exist around the world that worshipped the solstices and the coming and going of the sun include pyramids, statues, temples, stone circles, ancient cities, and many more.
- 88% of Earth’s population live in the Northern Hemisphere, and therefore experience the summer solstice on June 21st, compared to 12% of people who experience it on December 21st.
- People around the world, regardless of what hemisphere they live in, celebrate the summer solstice and the changing of seasons with bonfires, festivals, parades, and ceremonies.
- The concept of “solstices” was embedded in navigation of the sky and stars (also known as “celestial navigation”) in Ancient Greece.
- Once people realized that the Earth was a sphere, astronomers, mathematicians, and scientists were able to develop the idea of the “celestial sphere”, which helped them to understand a lot about Earth’s movement through space.
- East Asian cultures divide the calendar into 24 solar terms. The 10th solar term marks the summer solstice (when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 90 degrees).
- Solstice is also used as a term to describe when a passage happens.
- In some cultures, the summer solstice marks the beginning of the summer season (in the Northern Hemisphere).
- It is not unusual to see people staying out later on or around the time of the summer solstice.
Summer Solstice Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about summer solstice across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Summer Solstice worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the summer solstice, also known as midsummer, which occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Sun Times
- Midsummer’s Eve
- Summer Solstice Wordsearch
- Solstice Vocabulary
- Coloring Page
- On The Map
- What’s That Word?
- Opinion Piece
- Summer Solstice Crossword
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Link will appear as Summer Solstice Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 9, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.