Summer solstice 2012: Did you miss the longest day of year?

Summer solstice -- where’d it go?

Perhaps you were among the many who missed this year’s summer solstice. It traditionally takes place June 21, which is today. But this year -- sneaky, sneaky -- the summer solstice arrived June 20.

This means that many people (including yours truly) did not get the opportunity to stand outdoors, look to the skies and relish the few extra rays of sunlight delivered courtesy of the summer solstice, which marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

More important, the summer solstice marks the start of the best season of all: summer. (Why is summer better than all the rest? Because it’s the only season dedicated to flip flops and umbrella drinks.)

Some parts of the country don’t need a calendar to know that summer has arrived along with the summer solstice.

Heat advisories are in effect in regions across the county. Parts of Southern California are bracing for another hot day after Lancaster hit 103 degrees Wednesday. Residents from Virginia to Maine are being urged to prepare for dangerous conditions and a Heat Index of 100+. And Philadelphia in particular is the subject of an Excessive Heat Warning from the National Weather Service.

Those areas can expect some release by Friday, according to the service. Until then:


“If you are in an area affected by the extreme heat, understand the warning signs of heat-related illnesses and take precautions to protect yourself, your family or any elderly neighbors,” the service says in an alert posted online Thursday. “Reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.”

Fun facts for the science-minded: The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches its highest peak north of the equator. While we in the Northern Hemisphere get to celebrate summer -- yay! -- our friends to the south are hunkering down for their version of winter.

From this day forward, we’ll start losing just a bit of that precious sunlight day by day, until we reach the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, on Dec. 21.


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