Did anyone else see the amazing shades of orange that lit up the Washington sky yesterday morning at sunrise?

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Washington Gears Up for Summer Solstice: i.e. the Longest Day

As the sun rose yesterday morning on Washington's coast kicking off the start of summer, the bright orange colors were representative of the heat we would soon experience. Yesterday, Washingtonians basked in 15 hours and 58 minutes of daylight during the longest day of the year. This yearly celestial event known as the summer solstice, occurs when Earth's axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun, resulting in the longest day and shortest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Usually, the first day of summer falls on June 21, but not in a leap year like 2024. In leap years, the summer solstice falls on June 20th.

The summer solstice holds many cultural, historical, and scientific significance across civilizations. From ancient times to modern celebrations, the summer solstice has been revered and observed in various ways. It also signifies the beginning of high temperatures throughout the summer months for people who live in Washington State. This weekend we will have highs near 100° for much of the state, and we know from experience that 115°+ is not far behind. I was born on June 21st, and the summer solstice has always been a part of my life. Having my birthday "usually" on the summer solstice, I have learned a few interesting facts about this unique time of year.:


1. Ancient Celebrations and Traditions: Throughout history, the summer solstice has been celebrated with festivals, rituals, and gatherings. In many cultures, it symbolizes renewal, fertility, and the triumph of light over darkness. Festivities often included bonfires, feasts, and ceremonial dances to honor the sun's power and life-giving energy.

2. Architectural Marvels: Some of the world's most iconic structures, such as Stonehenge in England and Chichen Itza in Mexico, align with the sun's movements during the solstice. These ancient monuments serve as astronomical calendars, illustrating the precision and astronomical knowledge of their creators. People flock to these locations during solstice events.

3. Modern Observations: Today, the summer solstice continues to inspire traditions and events worldwide, like in Scandinavia where the sun never sets and locals celebrate with all-night parties known as "Midsummer" festivities. In the United States, outdoor events are often planned during the occasion. Although most people mostly only know it as the "longest day of the year" and do not really celebrate it.

4. Scientific Insights: From a scientific standpoint, the solstice marks a pivotal moment in Earth's orbit, when the North Pole is tilted closest to the sun, resulting in the sun's highest position in the sky at noon. It is also the longest period of daylight for the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

5. Ecological Impact: The extended daylight of the summer solstice plays an important role in how nature works around the world and in the northwest. It influences plant growth, animal behavior, and agricultural cycles. Its impacts are wide and affect both ecosystems and human activities.

The summer solstice this year brings almost 16 hours of sunshine and a high temperature near 100° for most of Washington State, making it perfect to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Whether you choose to hike, picnic, or simply enjoy a sunset stroll along a nearby river, take a moment to appreciate the magic of the summer solstice and its significance to Washington. I have been lucky enough to appreciate it every year on my birthday.

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Gallery Credit: Lucky Larry, Mix 93-1

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