Summer solstice 2011

By Phil Plait | June 21, 2011 6:30 am

Today, June 21, 2001, at 17:16 UTC (1:16 p.m. Eastern US time), the Sun will reach its peak in its northward travels this year. This moment is the summer solstice — I describe this in detail in an earlier post. Technically, that article is for the winter solstice, but the idea’s the same. Just replace "winter" with "summer" and "December" with "June" and "south" with "north". That should be clear enough. It might be easier just to multiply the entire article by -1. Or stand on your head.

Since for the majority of people on the planet this day marks the start (or more commonly the midpoint) of summer, enjoy the gallery below that shows our nearest star doing what it does best: giving us light, giving us beauty, and sometimes, blowing its top.


Use the thumbnails and arrows to browse, and click on the images to go through to blog posts with more details and descriptions.

glennschneider_eclipse2010
alanfriedman_proms_halpha
alanfriedman_sun_halpha
atlantis_hst_2009may13crop
hst_wfpc_sun_610
iss_sunset
schneider_eclipse_plane
sdo304_dec62010
sdo_aia94_xrayflare
sdo_loopsflare
sdo_lunar_transit
sdo_prominence
sdo_solareclipse
stereo_flare
stereo_transit
sunpillar
sunspot_model
tenthings_sun_flare
thierry_iss_atlantis_2010
thierry_transit_iss

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (19)

  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    What you’re seeing is the limb of the Earth taking a bite out of the Sun!

    So our Earth has a limb that can bite – without teeth or tongue – across 150 million kilometers (or by definition 1 AU) but while it eats it does not consume and returns all to how it was before?There’s a riddle in there somewhere. ;-)

    This moment is the summer solstice

    Not in Oz it aint! ;-)

    (As I’m sure the BA knows.)

    We call it the “Winter solstice” here but then you folks *are* upside down I guess! ;-)

    Oh well, Happy Solstice to everyone anyhow! :-) 8)

  2. Georg

    “Or stand on your head.”

    Or have a trip to those dangling down their heads all the time “down under”.

  3. The Sun in negative hydrogen looks almost like a human egg cell.

  4. QuietDesperation

    It might be easier just to multiply the entire article by -1.

    Will I get an article about the equinox if I multiply it by i?

  5. Brian

    @#4: Either that, or an article busting the myth about how the solstice is the only day of the year that you can’t balance an egg on its end.

  6. ceramicfundamentalist

    “this day marks the start (or more commonly the midpoint) of summer”

    that’s hard to believe around these parts. it’s currently 6 C with fog and drizzle where i am. “summer” doesn’t usually start until the middle of july here (but oh what a summer it is!), and it usually lasts until october. i guess it’s all a matter of perspective and prevailing weather patterns.

  7. JohnM

    We’re only halfway through summer? Ugh. Here in Texas, we’re going through our second serious drought in three years, and locally have broken or tied high temp records (all over 100 F) for something like 9 of the last 10 days, a good 10-12 (or more) degrees above normal.

    And this is during what is usually the mildest part of our summer… Come on hurricane season!

  8. Michel

    AAAARRRRRGGGHHH A Spotless Solstice… Two lunar eclipses this year…
    We´re going to die huh?

  9. Messier Tidy Upper

    @^ Michel : Well, eventually, one day, yeah! Hopefully much later rather than sooner but that’s the reality of being human. ;-)

  10. JMW

    @4. QuietDesperation Says:
    Will I get an article about the equinox if I multiply it by i?

    I imagine so.

  11. Happy Summer Solstice, Dr. Plait! Amazing compilation of pictures of the sun. Thank you! (◕‿◕)’

  12. I, for one, am in favor of switching to the cross-quarter days as the start of the seasons.
    Just makes more sense.

  13. Michel

    @MTU
    And that´s what they call a glorious day etc…
    But serious. Stinks. When I die I never get to see…
    And I always want to see what´s next. The other side of the mountain.
    The green over there. You know.
    grmbl

  14. Pete Jackson

    Your readers in Australia and other southern hemisphere countries will be calling this the winter solstice when you want to call it the summer solstice. More universal terms are ‘northern solstice’ and ‘southern solstice’ which works in both hemispheres, in all calendars, and on Mars as well!

    So June 21 is the day of the northern solstice.

  15. Keith Bowden

    Happy solstice… now, let’s move in closer to the sun, shall we? 8)

  16. properjob

    Lovely to hear the Sun is enthralled by its own magnetic field! it’s probaly ‘in thrall’ too?
    Stunning pics BadAst and great tweets keep em coming

  17. properjob

    Lovely to hear the Sun is enthralled by its own magnetic field! it’s probably ‘in thrall’ too?
    Stunning pics BadAst and great tweets keep em coming

  18. mike burkhart

    There is still this misconception that the seasions have to do with the Earth distance form the sun , I think it will be some time before we get rid of it.If they did have to do with the Earth distance from the sun then summer would be hotter and winter would be colder.

  19. Beautiful pictures, especially the ones in negative Hydrogen.

    But I think this solstice happens in 2011, not in 2001…… :)

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