When is summer solstice 2024 set to happen in the UK and what is it?

Close-up view of ancient stones during sunset at UNESCO World Heritage Site at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK. Sun shines through the stones. Major tourist destination, archeological and pilgrimage site during Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice. Visible grain, softer focus.
-Credit: (Image: Getty/jessicaphoto)

Each year, two solstices take place - the June solstice and the December solstice.

The longest day in the Northern Hemisphere occurs during summer. Meanwhile the shortest, in the Southern Hemisphere, takes place in winter.

Called the Summer solstice and Winter solstice respectively, we are just days away from it happening this month. So what is the summer solstice and why does it happen?

When is the summer solstice in 2024?

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This year the summer solstice will occur on Thursday, June 20. The time its set to happen will be at 9:51pm (GMT).

What is the summer solstice?

Crowds celebrating summer solstice and the dawn of the longest day of the year at Stonehenge on June 21, 2018 in Wiltshire, England.
The summer solstice marks midsummer -Credit:Getty/Paul Mansfield Photography 2018

According to the Royal Observatory, the summer solstice marks midsummer, the 'longest day' and 'shortest night' of the year. On this day, daylight hours reach their peak, while the duration of night falls to its shortest.

They explain: "However, while most people consider the summer solstice to be a day, it is in reality an exact moment in time that falls upon that day. This moment comes when whichever hemisphere you're in is most tilted towards the Sun."

What happens during a Solstice?

According to timeanddate: "Solstice comes from the Latin words sol, meaning Sun and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still. On the day of the June solstice, the Sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from the Earth.

"At that moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most other days of the year, but it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again."

They further explain: "The opposite happens during the December solstice. Then, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky—the Tropic of Capricorn—stands still, and then reverses its direction towards the north."

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