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The 2012 Summer Solstice

It's the longest day of the year as summer begins officially at 7:09 p.m.

Today is the first day of summer, also known as the summer solstice. It's the longest day of the year (and the shortest night).

And it's a hot one in Framingham - 96 degrees was the highest temperature we saw.

The actual moment of the solstice will occur at about 7:09 p.m. this evening, while the sun sits directly above the Pacific Ocean to the west of Hawaii.

As you may remember from your grade school science lessons, the seasons and the changing lengths of the day and night throughout the year are a result of the Earth's axial tilt.

Try to visualize the Earth's orbit around the sun as an elliptical path on an imaginary plane in space. As the Earth rests in that plane, its north and south poles—the ends of its axis—do not point straight "up" and "down." The axis is instead about 23.4 degrees off the "vertical."

As a result, the northern and southern hemisphere do not receive equal amounts of sunshine throughout the year. Right now, the northern hemisphere is "leaning" towards the sun. From tonight until the winter solstice on December 21, as the Earth continues around the sun, that tilt in the planet's axis will be "leaning" our hemisphere less towards the sun each day. 

If not for the tilt of the Earth's axis, we would not have seasons. The day and night would be exactly the same length, year round. The northern and southern hemispheres would share the sun's light equally. Right now, that only happens on the days of the spring and fall equinoxes (March 20 and September 22, this year).

Perhaps appropriately, as we bask in a whopping 15 hours, two minutes of daylight, today is also expected to be the hottest day of 2012 to date in our area. Tomorrow could be hotter still.

If the heat gets to be a bit too much, consider the flip side of today's solstice: for our friends in the southern hemisphere, today is the winter solstice. In Punta Arenas, Chile, the high today will be in the mid to upper 30s.

Jim Rizoli June 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I'll take Chille's temp over ours any day. Not a heat person. I'm sitting on my deck typing this and sweating in the process. Haven't hooked up any air conditioning as of yet. Jim@ccfiile.com
David Nolta June 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Yes, please, take Chile. "LOL"
Jim Rizoli June 20, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Ya, but would Chile take me? LOL Jim@ccfiile.com
David Nolta June 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Oh Jim, I do pray for you--seriously, not from a "liberal" place, nor from a place of assumed superiority, but from a hope that you will one day see the cruelty of so many of the things you say.... Really!
Jim Rizoli June 20, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I won't apologize for what I say...but will apologize if my words hurt ya. Jim@ccfiile.com
Ron king June 21, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Seen these kind of guys all the time on the "pump and dump" message boards...Usually a cheep go no place penny stock. Goes BK in months....At least you beat that time frame.
Jim Rizoli June 21, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Ron....we're a family here and have a vacancy want to join? jim@ccfiile.com
Ron king June 21, 2012 at 08:31 AM
If it is a KKK like organization, no thank you. Although growing up on the North Side and moving west to Shrewsbury (little India) after College has given me an inside look at what the South side was, and has become.

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