And so, it came— the longest day of the year. While many folks still think summer starts on Memorial Day weekend, this year summer actually starts June 21st, a day that’s also known as summer solstice. It’s the moment during the year when the sun is its farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere, and the moment when the sun will make its longest pilgrimage across the sky. Here are 4 facts you need to know about summer solstice:

1. What is Summer Solstice?

Summer solstice has been a time honored in history by ancient cultures that tracked the sun’s route across the sky, the stretch of daylight and the location of sunrise and sunset. Historic monuments have been built around summer solstice and today we recognize this cosmic event that is caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis and its rotation around the sun. Summer solstice occurs between June 20th and June 22nd. Today, the sun will reach its greatest height at 11:45 am EDT.

2. Hot Weather is Coming!

Yes, summer solstice is the longest day of the year, but why isn’t it the hottest? There’s a reason why they call Earth the “Blue Planet”. About 71% of Earth’s surface is water-covered and the oceans hold about 97% of that. The temperature will not reach its highest peak until a few weeks later. That’s because water is a slow conductor of heat. Its fluid makeup means that its molecules are relentlessly moving so it takes a few weeks longer for the temperature to warm up.

3. What Happens to the Southern Hemisphere?

Well, it’s the exact opposite! Today, solstice in the Southern Hemisphere marks the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. Why is this? This is due to our planets tilt on its axis. The north and south poles have a point that is closest or farthest from the sun. In fact, during summer solstice the earth is actually furthest away from the sun! The increased warmth that graces us during the summer months simply comes from Earth’s axis and not how far or close it is to the sun.

4. Summer Solstice and Solar Energy

With summer solstice officially here, it’s bringing early dawns, longer days, late sunsets and shorter nights. Collectively as humans, it has been a time to treasure the longer days and warmth that this astronomical event brings us. At Nexamp, longer days of summer allows our community solar farms to generate more solar energy. Just as the amount of energy you use in your home fluctuates by season, the power generated by a community solar project varies from month to month based on the amount of sunlight it receives. Summer months typically feature more sunlight that generates a higher level of solar credits to help offset a community solar subscriber’s electricity cost. May, June, July and August are the peak months for our solar farms in Massachusetts, New York and Maryland, because the sun is higher in the sky and the days are longer.

As you celebrate the sun, consider harnessing its energy by subscribing to a local community solar farm. Visit our community solar page to find out if you are in an eligible location!