How do you celebrate the summer solstice in June?
Although it is a global moment, the best way to witness the onset of summer in the Northern Hemisphere (and winter in the Southern Hemisphere) is by watching the sunrise.
But this year, the effort to get out of bed very early is a sight you’ll never forget: a moon in the first quarter close to Jupiter while all five planets in the solar system are visible to the naked eye.
Here’s everything you need to know about where and when to look:
When is the summer solstice?
The June solstice is on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at 09:13 UTC. It is a global moment that can be translated for North America and Europe in these times:
- 5:13 a.m. EDT
- 04:13 a.m. CDT
- 3:13 a.m. MDT
- 2:13 p.m. PDT
- 10:13 AM BST
- 11:13 AM CEST
When and where is the sunrise on the solstice?
That depends on where you are on Earth. All you have to do is find out what time sunrise is where you are and then make sure you’re in a location with a good view of the eastern horizon.
Here are the “solstice sunrise” times for a few key locations:
- New York City: 5:25am (solstice is at 5:13am, so it’s the perfect match-up!)
- Los Angeles: 5:42 a.m. (solstice is at 2:13 a.m.)
- Stonehenge, UK: 4:52am (solstice is at 10:15am)
How, when and where to see planets and the moon on the solstice?
Look at the southeastern sky just before sunrise on the summer solstice and you will see Saturn, the Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury. The moon is in the first quarter. It will be a special sight, but be careful when finding Mercury. You might be tempted to use binoculars to find the tiny planet, but that’s not advisable when it’s getting close to sunrise (the last thing you want to do is point your binoculars at the sun).
Remarkably, the five planets will be arranged in their natural order with the naked eye from the sun. First will be Mercury (the faintest) and Venus (the brightest) — the two inner planets that orbit closer to the sun than we do on Earth — followed by Mars, Jupiter, and then Saturn.
Find out when Mercury’s rise is where you’ll see the solstice – that’s when you should look at the stars.
What is the Summer Solstice?
The longest day and shortest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice, is when the Earth’s northern axis is tilted toward the sun, which is exactly 23.5° north of the equator directly over the Tropic of Cancer. That’s as far north as the sun ever gets, so there’s the most sunlight — and thus the longest day.
The exact opposite happens in the Southern Hemisphere, where the June solstice sees the sun at its lowest in the sky. So winter begins below the equator.
Is the summer solstice the beginning of summer?
Opinions are divided on when summer starts in the Northern Hemisphere. While most people think that summer in the Northern Hemisphere starts on June 1, that’s just a meteorological summer. Who cares about that?! Astronomical summer — as determined by the precise inclination in Earth’s orbit and its position in the solar system — begins on the date of the June solstice.
I wish you a clear sky and big eyes.