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Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
A diagram showing how the Sun moves through the sky on the Summer solstice.
Click on image for full size

The Summer Solstice

The summer solstice, which occurs around June 21, is the longest day of the year! This is because the Sun gets very high in the sky for people living in places north of the equator like the United States, Europe, and China. The Sun stays above the horizon for more than 12 hours on that day.

The diagram to the left shows how the Sun may appear to move through your sky on the summer solstice, if you live at a latitude of 40° N, around Topeka, Kansas for instance.

The Sun has been climbing higher and higher in the sky since the vernal equinox around March 21. As the Sun gets higher, and as the days get longer, the northern part of the Earth warms up - it's summer!

Did you notice that the Sun doesn't go directly over the person's head?? The Sun only passes directly overhead for people living very near the equator. Compare this picture to what you would see in the winter or on an equinox.

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The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

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