Thursday, June 18, 2015

Are You Ready For the Summer Solstice?

Photo by Lonnie Webster
At precisely 12:39 p.m. this coming Sunday, June 21, the sun will appear to stand still directly over the Tropic of Cancer. The summer solstice, one of the high holy days for the ancient Druids and for gardeners everywhere.

I explain this every year, but it's important to repeat it: sol-stice literally means "sun standing still." It's the precise moment at which the northward tilt of the earth on its axis reaches its maximum and begins its slow tilt back toward the south.

The planet earth rotates around the sun, always tilted on its axis at a 23.5-degree angle. Because of this tilt, the latitudes of 23.5 degrees north (called the Tropic of Cancer) and 23.5 degrees south (called the Tropic of Capricorn) become important for the summer and the winter solstices. The tilt gives us our seasons, our meteorological changes, our summer gardens. If Earth had no tilt and was just straight up and down, there would never be a winter or a summer. 

We're wobbling through space, O my brethren, and the ancient Druids held their collective breath on the solstice to keep the wobble orderly.


Anonymous said...

Didn't the legislature outlaw the wobble?

SolsticeSue said...

Just look out your kitchen window @ 12:39 Sunday will see a small, naked, well-sunscreened band dancing around those bean-teepees in your garden in celebration!