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Summer solstice: The longest day of the year when the sun stands still

Summer solstice, the longest day of the year. A whole 888 minutes with the sunlight. Astronomically the summer begins today, June 21 2017. As of tomorrow, days will steadily start to become shorter again, one minute per day – until the winter solstice in December.

The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘sun standing still’. Some prefer the more teutonic term ‘sunturn’ to describe the event.

Astrologers say the sun seems to ‘stand still’ at the point on the horizon where it appears to rise and set, before moving off in the reverse direction.

Meteorologically, summer started on June 1st. However, this June Greece has been frequently struck by rainstorms, hail falls and strong winds.  According to meteo forecast, temperatures will rise in the next days, but there will be rainstorms again locally.

Technically speaking, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5° north latitude.

Earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis  – probably because our planet collided with some other massive object billions of years ago, back when it was still being formed, notes

So between March and September, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets more exposure to direct sunlight over the course of a day. The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more.

Pagans have always believed the summer solstice – also known as midsummer as it was the midpoint of the growing season – holds a special power.

Midsummer’s eve was believed to be a time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest and when fairies were thought to be at their most powerful.

Why is Stonehenge so significant?

Thousands of garland-wearing hippies, druids and curious tourists descend on Stonehenge in Avebury, Wiltshire every year to watch the sunrise.

 The ancient prehistoric structure has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of summer solstice for thousands of years and is seen by many as a sacred site.

The Pagan monument is famously aligned to the solstices. The rising sun only reaches the middle of the stones one day of the year when it shines on the central altar.

Despite it’s obvious connections to the sun, the exact purpose of the mysterious circle still remains unknown.

Built in three phases between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C, the huge stones were brought from very long distances – the bluestones from the Preseli Hills more than 150 miles away, and the sarsens probably from the Marlborough Downs, 19 miles to the north.

PS If all the explanations above are too complicated, just relax and enjoy the summer solstice with a long visit at the beach or an extended barbecue. Or just ignore it.

As the two cats have been zealously bathing since last night, I won’t exclude some kind of rain fall tight above our heads or nearby.

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