December Solstice marks the arrival of the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere. That’s why in the earth’s southern areas, let’s say for Australian people, December Solstice is known as the Summer Solstice or Estival Solstice.
In 2021, the summer solstice in Australia (southern hemisphere) will occur on Wednesday, December 22, at sharp 02:59 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). Not to mention, this astronomical event will also mark the brightest as well as the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere.
On the other hand, for people living in the northern hemisphere, this solstice marks the arrival of the first day of winter. That’s why in the earth’s northern areas, December Solstice is known as the Winter or Hibernal Solstice. Again, for the people living in the northern half of the earth, this astronomical event will also mark the darkest as well as the shortest day of the year.
Simply speaking, one can say that the meaning of solstice changes depending on the fact that at which side of the hemisphere you live upon. Moving ahead, in this exclusive article, we will talk about the fact that why December Solstice i.e summer solstice in the southern hemisphere is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.
Or, the questions like that December Solstice i.e the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere is actually the official first day of summer or mid-summer? Therefore, in order to get the answer to questions like these, I would suggest you stick with me till the end. Let’s dive right in!!!
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What is Solstice?
There are two ways to define the meaning of solstice. These are meteorological and astronomical definitions of Solstice. Right now, I am going to explain it on the basis of astronomy. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be explaining the meteorological definition of solstices. We will talk about it in the later section.
So, moving ahead, according to the astronomical definition of solstices, this is a natural event during which one of the hemispheres is at the maximum tilt away from or towards the sun. And, when this happens, the sun appears to stand still and reverses its direction. In layman, Solstice is a day that occurs due to the sun’s changing path.
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In case if you don’t know, there are generally four seasons that occur on earth. These are summer, winter, autumn, and spring. Just like the summer and winter solstice is responsible for the arrival of summer and winter seasons on earth. In a similar way, the spring & fall equinox is responsible for the arrival of spring and autumn seasons on earth.
To summarise, each year earth experiences 2 solstices (summer and winter) and 2 equinoxes (spring and fall) that help us to understand the patterns related to the changing seasons.
Now, the question arises that why there is a mismatch between the north and south. To put it differently, why when there is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. At the same time, there is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Let’s Find out!!!
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Thanks to Earth’s Tilt, We See Solstices
Well, there is a small correction here. Not only do we see solstices because of the earth’s tilt. We see equinoxes too. Moving ahead, just because the earth has an axial tilt of 23.4 degrees, there is a mismatch between the northern and southern hemispheres.
In fact, Kepler’s law also contributes to the formation of the different seasons across the globe. YES, YES, the same Kepler’s law that states that all the planets in the solar system revolve around the sun in an elliptical orbit.
However, Kepler’s law contribution can’t be compared to the role played by the earth’s tilt. I mean, if I say in terms of approximated ratios. Then it will be like 90:10.
|Basis of Comparision||Northern Hemisphere||Southern Hemisphere|
|March Equinox||In the northern hemisphere, it marks the first day of spring, therefore, Spring or Vernal Equinox.||In the southern hemisphere, it marks the first day of fall, therefore, Fall or Autumn Equinox.|
|June Solstice||It marks the first day of summer, therefore, Summer Solstice.||It marks the first day of winter, therefore, Winter Solstice.|
|September Equinox||Marks the first day of fall, therefore, Fall Equinox.||Marks the first day of spring, therefore, Spring Equinox.|
|December Solstice||It marks the first day of winter, therefore, Winter Solstice.||It marks the first day of summer, therefore, Summer Solstice.|
December Solstice – First Day of Summer in Southern Hemisphere
As you already know that a solstice is a natural event during which one of the hemispheres is at the maximum tilt away from or towards the sun. Moreover, you also know that there are two types of Solstices.
These are June Solstice and December Solstice. So, how to define June solstice or December Solstice? OKAY, let me rephrase my question for you!!! What’s the difference between June and December solstice? ANY GUESS?
See, the only difference between them is that during the June solstice, the north pole of the earth is at its maximum tilt towards the sun. That’s why the June solstice is also known as the Northern Solstice.
On the other hand, during the December solstice, the south pole is at its maximum tilt towards the sun. That’s why the December solstice is also known as the southern solstice.
December Solstice – Southern Solstice
During December Solstice, the south pole of the earth is at its maximum tilt towards the sun. Therefore, half of the earth’s surface (southern hemisphere) receives maximum sunlight.
Hence, marking the brightest as well as the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. That’s why the December Solstice aka Southern solstice is officially known as the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere.
In addition, not only the sun’s orbital path across the sky will be as high as it can be. The sun will also enter the Tropic of Capricorn on the eve of December Solstice.
And with that, days get shorter and shorter after the occurrence of the summer solstice. That’s why the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere is also known as the mid-summer.
Summer Solstice – First Day of Summer or Midsummer?
Now is the time that we should talk about the meteorological definition of the summer solstice. Well, technically speaking, if we go by the meteorological definition of the summer solstice, it marks the end of the half of the summer season i.e mid-summer.
However, on the other hand, if we go by the astronomical definition of the summer solstice, it marks the arrival of the first day of summer. Therefore, the question arises that why we have two different definitions for a single event. More importantly, which one of these is the correct one? Let’s find out.
Let’s Go Back in Time
Before the arrival of the scientific revolution, humans didn’t know how to calculate the change in the season in terms of astronomical calculations. WHY? Because they didn’t have the telescope to do such nasty observations.
Therefore, what they used to do is to calculate the change in season as humanly as possible. With time, early humans understood that the sun seems to cross over the horizon after a fixed interval of time. Additionally, they also understood the pattern of the annual temperature cycle.
In other words, what early humans used to do is to calculate the relative things, like what they felt and observed with the naked eyes, which is in fact in the modern notation is known as the meteorological definition of summer solstice or simply meteorological summer.
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On the other hand, what our astronomers and scientists calculate with their super-sophisticated technology is defined as the astronomical definition of summer solstice or simply astronomical summer.
Therefore, to conclude, I would say that both definitions are correct in their own sense. Hence, as a result, some people define summer solstice as the first day of summer.
On the contrary, some people define it as the end of the half of the summer season, hence, mid-summer. Not to mention, the meteorological seasons always arrive approx 20 or 21 days before the arrival of astronomical seasons. To understand it more clearly, refer to the table given below.
Meteorological vs Astronomical Seasons
|Seasons||Meteorological Season Dates||Astronomical Season Dates|
|Autumn Equinox||Monday, 1 March 2021||Saturday, 20 March 2021|
|Winter Solstice||Tuesday, 1 June 2021||Monday, 21 June 2021|
|Spring Equinox||Wednesday, 1 September 2021||Thursday, 23 September 2021|
|Summer Solstice||Wednesday, 1 December 2021||Wednesday, 22 December 2021|
How Long is the Longest Day of the Year in the Southern Hemisphere?
How long is the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere simply depends on the fact that how close you are residing to the south pole. In other words, the closer you reside to the south of the antarctic circle towards the south pole, the maximum hours of daylight you will receive.
According to the data released by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, during the 2015 summer solstice, the exact south pole received 24 hours of daylight. Similarly, Johannesburg received approximately 13 hours and 47 minutes of daylight.
Capetown received 14 hours and 25 minutes of daylight. The city of Invercargill of New Zealand received 15 hours and 48 minutes of daylight. The city of Ushuaia of Argentina received 17 hours and 19 minutes of daylight.
To summarize, if we talk about the whole of the southern hemisphere as one, the longest, as well as the brightest day of the year in the southern hemisphere, received an average of 15 hours of daylight. Don’t forget, the closer you are to the south pole, the more hours of daylight you will receive.
When is Summer Solstice in Southern Hemisphere?
In 2021, the December Solstice i.e summer solstice in the southern hemisphere will occur on Wednesday, December 22, at sharp 02:59 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). It is the time when the sun will be highest in the sky, therefore, as a result, marking the longest as well as the brightest day of the year in the earth’s southern areas.
Not to mention, this astronomical event will occur at the same moment for all of us. In other words, whether you are living in Australia (i.e in the southern hemisphere), or in London (i.e in the northern hemisphere), it would be a moment of joy for all of us at the same instant.
The above-mentioned date and time is strictly in reference to the astronomical definition of the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. As per the meteorological definition, summer solstice – the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere (Australia) will occur on Wednesday, December 01, 2021.
Why does the summer solstice date vary?
Well, it’s not rocket science to understand, just some basic physics. See, after every four years, there is a leap year. Therefore, in order to adjust the Gregorian Calendar with the eve of the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, the December solstice date varies.
For example, in 2020, the December solstice occurred on the 21st of the month. But this year i.e 2021, it will occur on the 22nd of the month. Not to mention, there are some other factors too, that contribute to the variation in the dates of the Summer solstice. But, just to make things easy, I am simply neglecting them.
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