This Saturday the 20th of June marks the Summer Solstice, the day which has the longest period of daylight in the whole year. With sunrise occurring at 4:43am and sunset at 9:21pm, there is a generous portion of day to enjoy before the nights gradually begin to close in again.
The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium which translates to “the sun” for sol and “to stand still” from sistere. In pagan cultures the solstice is believed to symbolise fertility and the harvest.
A common occurrence on the solstice is a gathering at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise as it’s believed that the monument was intended as a sort of astronomical calendar. On the solstice, the sun aligns with the Heel stone and Altar Stone as it rises. However this year there will be no organised event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There will, however, be a livestream of the sunrise over Stonehenge. The ancient site is due to re-open on the 4th of July with the traditional summer solstice event expected to go ahead as usual in 2021.
Astrologically, the solstice marks the end of springtime and the beginning of summertime. Summer will end on the 22nd of September when the autumn equinox occurs and day and night are approximately the same length.