Fun with the Sun!

Written by Ong Shu Yi

Summer Solstice? When? How?

Summer solstice happens on 21 June 2017.

The summer solstice occurs due to the Earth’s tilt as it orbits around the sun. On this day, the Earth’s north pole will point more towards the Sun than at any time of the year.

It signifies the start of summer in the northern hemisphere, as well as longest daylight hours for the whole year. For the southern hemisphere, it marks the start of winter and shortest daylight hours.

earth 1
In June, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, resulting in more sunlight spreading over it. (Credit: NASA)
earth2
In December, the opposite happens, and the Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun. (Credit NASA)

It might be hard to spot some effects of the summer solstice in Singapore as we are 1 degree north of the equator. But, if you know what signs to look out for, you might able to observe it still!

On 21 June, we will experience the longest number of daylight hours for the year – 12 hours 11 minutes 46 seconds, from sunrise to sunset. When compared to the shortest daylight hours in December of 12 hours 3 minutes 4 seconds, the difference is only 9 minutes. This difference might be noticeable if you reach home at around 7 pm.

A slightly later sunset of 7.12 pm as compared to the first half of the year should make the sky look brighter.

How do I know if it is happening?

Take note of the sun’s position if you are heading out at around 7.30am – 8am. It will be positioned slightly more to the left (i.e. North) than usual. Take a look at the sun every now and then over the next few months after 21 June.

You should observe the sun gradually moving towards the right (i.e. South) every week. At sunset, you should observe that the afternoon/evening sun moves towards the right as well.

This will become more obvious (or annoying!), if your home has north-facing windows. You might think you will escape the brightness and heat of the afternoon/western sun. But, come summer solstice, you will find the once shady spot now lit by bright sunlight.

All parts of the world will experience to some degree the effects of solstice. The further you are from the equator, the more obvious it will be.

Join us!

If you find the sun fascinating, come join us “Fun with the Sun” where we are celebrating summer solstice the scientific way with week-long activities. These activities are located near the Ecogarden. Kindly note that Science Centre admission rates apply.

 

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