June solstice 2020

EquinoxSolsticeThe June Solstice is when the Sun reaches its northernmost position overhead at the Tropic of Cancer (remember that from geography in primary school?). Guess what, the Tropic of Cancer takes its name from Astrology, from the fact that the Sun moves into the tropical zodiac sign of Cancer on this day.

The word ‘solstice’ comes from Latin meaning ‘the Sun stands still’. If you follow the position of sunrise along the horizon during the year, you’ll notice it moves with the seasons. At the solstices in June and December, the Sun reaches its furthest point in one direction before returning towards the centre point again. Many ancient sacred sites were aligned with the sun’s position at the solstice, creating a magical effect at the solstice sunrise, including standing stone circles such as Stonehenge in England and the Newgrange monument in Ireland.

In the southern hemisphere, the June Solstice is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, traditional midwinter time. You’ll notice this more the further south you go, where the days will get very short indeed. After the solstice, the days start to lengthen again and the world returns from the darkness of winter, moving towards the rebirth of spring.

In the northern hemisphere the seasons are reversed, and so the June Solstice is of course the Summer Solstice, the traditional midsummer time, the longest day and the shortest night, a time of magic when the veil between the worlds was very thin, as shown in Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.  Once past midsummer, the days start to shorten as the northern hemisphere moves towards autumn.

The solstice is the real turning point of the year.  Once past the solstice, we move towards the September Equinox where day and night are equal once more.  The solstice was always celebrated in ancient times, often with bonfires and dancing.  Plants especially respond to the change in the length of days, often only germinating either before or after the solstice.  If we were more in tune with Nature, ie without artificial light, we’d respond a lot more obviously too!

The solstice is exact on Sun 21 June 2020 at 7.43am Queensland time (AEST) (the previous day in Europe and the Americas).  The solstice falls just before the solar eclipse (see next post), which falls on the same day in Australia at 4.41pm AEST.  The solstice eclipse marks the beginning of our next lunar month.

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