Summer solstice

Longest day of the year?

PhotoPills screenshot showing time/date for equinoxes and solstices.

Today is the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere). More precisely, the solstice occurred at 5:15am here in the Eastern timezone. The summer solstice is the moment at which the sun has ‘traveled’ to its northernmost latitude, in its annual cycle of apparent movement to the north in summer and to the south in winter. (It’s a great day for those of us with solar panels, because it means we’re getting hours of sunlight!) Read on.

PhotoPills screenshot showing sunrise/sunset times for Lyme around this date.

It’s often said that the summer solstice is the longest day of the year… but it’s not, at least according to the PhotoPills app, from which I grabbed all the screenshots here. This great app is designed for photographers who want to plan their photography around the cycles of the sun and the moon; it allows you to pick any point on earth and any date/time and map out exactly where the sun will rise and set, the moon will rise and set, and when. Anyway, at our New Hampshire house the solstice sun rises at 5:07am and sets at 8:34pm, for a day of length 15 hours and 27 minutes. The same times apply to the two days prior (June 19,20) and the day after (June 22)… but on June 23 the sun rises at 5:07am and sets at 8:35pm, for a day of length 15 hours and 28 minutes. (All times are rounded to the minute, which hide the details … so maybe today really is the longest day.)

Sunset on June 23 (8:35pm) is the latest sunset of the year; interestingly, the earliest sunrise (5:06am) occurred on June 12–18. (During that period, the birds start singing at about 4:06am… I need no alarm clock!)

Anyway, the PhotoPills ‘planner’ screen shows the time and azimuth of sunrise (yellow), sunset (orange), moonrise (light blue), and moonset (dark blue). This time of year, the sun rises from the northeast and sets west-northwest.

PhotoPills screenshot of a map showing sunrise/sunset angles, at Lyme.

Coincidentally, for today’s sunrise I am on Kiawah Island, SC; Below is a sunrise photo and the PhotoPills plan for that location. (By sunset, I’ll be back home in Lyme, NH!)

Sunrise at Kiawah, on the summer solstice.

The Kiawah beach is aligned roughly northeast-southwest, and this time of year the sun rises from behind the beach. At winter solstice, it rises over the ocean (as in my photo of a Christmas sunrise).

PhotoPills screenshot of a map showing sunrise/sunset angles, at Kiawah.

The PhotoPills app can do much, much more, and is worthwhile tool for photographers. I found Brenda Petrella’s PhotoPills tutorials to be helpful in understanding this complex app.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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