Solstice in Latin means "sun standing still." Reaching its highest and northernmost point in the sky, the sun must travel its longest path, meaning it will take longer to rise and to set, which is why today marks the longest day — or longest period of sunlight hours — and shortest night. It’s the first day of summer and usually falls between June 20 and June 22. And this year, the solstice also happens to fall on Father’s Day! Here's what sky watchers can expect to see as dads around the world celebrate on Sunday, as well as during the week following the summer solstice. On Sunday, during the day, viewers in the Northern Hemisphere may experience more than 14 hours of sunlight. You can use The Farmer's Almanac Sunrise and Sunset Calculator to determine how many hours of sunlight you’ll get in your location during the solstice. Other sky watching events starting on Monday night, June 21, Venus and the bright star Pollux will appear closest to each other. On Tuesday, June 22, the bright star Antares will appear below the waxing moon only shortly before the moon reaches its closest approach to Earth in its orbit on Wednesday, June 23. Then, on Thursday, June 24, the next full moon, also called the Strawberry Moon and will appear full to stargazers through early Saturday morning.
Science is science and that is good, but at times more wistful thoughts are just as entertaining and insightful! In Shakespeare's time, the summer solstice was called Midsummer's Eve and it was a night of celebration and the Elizabethan people also believed it was a time of mystery and magic when young people would meet the person they were supposed to marry. Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream seems to be set in May, as May Day is mentioned in the play, but the themes of the play, along with its title, indicate that Midsummer's Eve is really what is being referred to. It has long been believed that during the time of the solstice, the boundaries between the human world and the world of the fairies was particularly thin. At the solstice, when the two worlds meet, fairies can meddle in the lives of humans, particularly when those humans wander into what might be considered the fairies' domain.
The great English writer, William Shakespeare said, "whatever you dream on this night will come to pass." Have great dreams this Midsummer’s Eve!