What is a solstice

Today, we will learn about Solstice. Solstice is a celestial event that occurs twice a year. Solstice means “standing sun”. Solstices influence the changing seasons by impacting daylight duration. It marks the longest or the shortest day. Let us learn more about solstices.

What is a Solstice?

A solstice is a significant event that occurs twice a year when the Earth’s axial tilt is either closest to or farthest away from the sun. This results in the longest day or the shortest day of the year, marking the importance of changing seasons. The word “solstice” comes from two Latin words: “sol,” meaning sun, and “sistere,” meaning to stand still. This term reflects the apparent pause or standstill of the sun’s movement in the sky during the solstices. The solstice lasts one day, but its effects extend for several weeks. This phenomenon happens because different parts of the Earth receive varying amounts of sunlight throughout the year.

The Summer Solstice usually occurs around June 21st. It is the longest day of the year. On this day, the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and we get the most of the daylight, which makes these days warmer. It happens because the Earth’s axial tilt causes the North Pole to lean towards the sun during this time, resulting in more direct sunlight and an extended period of daylight. It signifies the beginning of summer, bringing warmer temperatures and ample sunlight for outdoor activities. 

The Winter Solstice happens around December 21st. It is the shortest day of the year, and the night is the longest.  During this time, the North Pole leans away from the sun. It means less direct sunlight and results in cooler temperatures. Winter begins by bringing cooler temperatures and marks the start of the winter season.

What’s the Difference Between a Solstice and an Equinox?

A solstice is an event in which the earth’s poles are most extremely inclined toward or away from the star it orbits.

An equinox is a moment when the Sun crosses the Earth’s equator, that is, appears directly above the equator, rather than north or south of the equator. Unlike solstices, equinoxes have equal days and nights.

Equinoxes happen twice a year, around March 21st and September 21st. During these times, day and night are almost the same length around the world. It occurs because the Earth’s axis isn’t tilted towards or away from the sun, making the amount of daylight and darkness nearly equal. The March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, while the September equinox signals the start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s like a moment of balance in the Earth’s yearly journey around the sun.

Solstices and equinoxes are important celestial events that guide Earth’s transition between seasons. Solstices bring us the longest days and shortest days, impacting the length of daylight and seasonal shifts. Equinoxes give us equal days and nights that symbolise a celestial equilibrium and signal the start of spring or autumn, depending on the hemisphere. These occurrences carry cultural, symbolic, and agricultural significance, influencing traditions and enriching our understanding. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)

Q1 How many solstices do we have in a year?

A: We have two solstices a year. The Summer Solstice is around June 21st, and the Winter Solstice is around December 21st.

Q2 Why do solstices happen?

A: Solstices occur due to the Earth’s axial tilt, creating variations in day length and making some days longer and others shorter.

Q3 How long do solstices last?

A: Solstices last for just one day, but the effects, like longer days in summer or shorter days in winter, last for several weeks.

Q4 Are solstices the same all over the world?

A: No, they are not similar. The length of days and nights during solstices varies depending on your location on Earth due to its spherical shape and axial tilt.

Q: Why is summer warmer than winter?

A: During summer, a part of the Earth is tilted towards the sun, receiving more direct sunlight, making it warmer. In winter, that part tilts away, receiving less direct sunlight, resulting in cooler temperatures.