The Best Day of the Year
June 21, 2022
On June 21 at 2:13 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the sun (which will be seen elsewhere around the globe, but not in our time zone) will stand still for a moment, thus marking its northern hemisphere zenith.
From then on it is, as one might say, all downhill from there.
The summer solstice is the longest number of daylight hours for us. In fact the sun will not set until 9:15 p.m. with civil twilight extending until just before 10 p.m. and not fully dark until 12:45 a.m.
While many think of the solstice as being the longest day, the change is imperceptible. In fact, the sun will set at 9:15 p.m. for the remainder of June and then, on July 1st, it will set one minute earlier.
Where the real change occurs is in the morning. Sunrise is at 5:09 a.m. on both June 20 and 21 but is one minute later on the 22nd. By that same July 1st date it will be a whole 5 minutes later. Now, for most of us, it will be unnoticeable since we are likely to be asleep.
While the Infallible Wikipedia does provide all sorts of technical information about the solstice, I like the website timeanddate.com which shows in very understandable graph form all the geeky minutiae I crave. As seen here:
Of course, all this is very interesting, but it does not explain what it is about the months of May, June, and July which speak to my soul. I don’t love fall and I don’t love winter. By spring it’s getting closer to my favorite season. June is, by far, my favorite month of the year.
I would venture to guess that I, like many in the PNW, suffer with some degree of Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). All the hours of light (I hesitate to call it sunlight during a year such as this one where it’s been cloudy, cool, and rainy so many days) help to buoy my spirits.
It’s as if we need the extra light to carry us through the dark months of the year.
By the time I was 18 I was, intellectually, aware of the fact that the length of days varied depending on where you were. But it wasn’t until a trip with my parents and my sister to England, Scotland, and Norway in July 1980, when I personally experienced even longer days than what we have here.
We flew into Bergen, Norway in the early part of July, arriving late morning. I didn’t think much about it until that evening, after having dinner, we walked around the town… but it never got dark. I snapped a photo of my sister sleeping at 11 pm with sunlight still streaming through the window.
It was a bit surreal. Back to Timeanddate.com. A search for Bergen reveals that the sunset in mid-July is nearly 11 p.m. and that it never gets completely dark at night. As it says on timeanddate.com ‘nautical twilight’ continues the rest of the night!
As tourists, we loved it, able to explore the country all times of the day… or night. We took a ride up a vernicular and visited the harbor late in the evening which provided the closest thing to a sunset they had.
The natives, also, adjusted their habits. In the early afternoon, all the shops would close up and the locals would go enjoy the extra sunshine too! And who can blame them? Come December, they pay for the extra light with extra dark.
As for me, I try not to think of fall or winter, but just enjoy the long light and count my blessings that I live in a place where I can enjoy the beauty of a light filled summer’s evening.