Summer solstice arrives early Wednesday morning

"My soul is in the sky.--A Midsummer Night's Dream William Shakespeare

Barbecue, cookout, pool party or picnic - This is easily one of the most popular ideas for celebrating the solstice; a fun, sociable activity that everyone enjoys.

The amount of light received by a specific area in the Nothern Hemisphere during the summer solstice depends on the latitudinal location of the place.

It's when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, directly above the Tropic of Cancer.

For astronomers the summer solstice marks the moment when the northern hemisphere is leaning at its maximum towards the Sun. Meteorological summer is June, July, and August, the three warmest months of the year.

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Astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere begins tonight, June 20, at 11:24 p.m. CDT - or at 12:24 a.m. on June 21 for those in the Eastern time zone.

The solstice happens twice annually due to the Earth's axis of rotation, and known as the summer and winter solstice. Using the distance from Syene to Alexandria, and the sun's position at noon on the solstice, Eratosthenes calculated that the Earth's circumference was 250,000 stadia, or approximately 44,000 kilometers. That's 15-hours, 22-minutes and 25-seconds of daylight, according If you really want some extreme, around the Arctic Circle just north of Fairbanks, Alaska the sun never sets.

After Wednesday, the northern hemisphere's days will get shorter until the winter solstice at 11:28 a.m. December 21, when there will be 9 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds of daylight. As the date of the solstice approaches, the days get longer by smaller and smaller increments.