Summer is here! What to know about the summer solstice, aka…

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The temperature in Western and Southwestern US was in the triple digits for a few weeks now, but don’t be surprised if someone tells you it isn’t technically summer yet.

The first day of summer 2021 is June 20 at 11:32 PM EDT. It is often referred to as the longest day of the year because it is the day with the most daylight (each “day” has 24 hours).

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For many cultures around the world, the first day of summer is welcomed with celebrations and rituals that recognize the importance of the sun to human life. Observations of the summer solstice take many forms around the world.

As it marks the first day of summer, the real heat is yet to come. According to climatologist Brian Brettschneider, there is an average of one month between the summer solstice and peak temperatures. Therefore, July is almost always the hottest month of the year in most locations.

Here are facts about the summer solstice:

The summer solstice is the day when the sun travels its longest path through the sky and reaches its highest point.

The tilt of the Earth on its axis shifts the north pole almost directly toward the sun, hence the long hours of daylight, according to Britannica.com.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice occurs between June 20 and 22. In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs on December 21 or 22.

For centuries, the position of the sun at certain times was indicative of planting or harvesting crops or performing daily tasks or rituals.

The Maya and Aztecs used the summer and winter solstices as markers to build structures that exactly match the shadows created by the sun, according to Scientific American. Many Native American tribes recognize the summer solstice with a sun dance.

history.com notes that the ancient Greeks used the solstice as a month-long countdown to the start of the Olympics. In Sweden, the solstice is called Midsommar and according to the celebrations, summer is welcomed as a season of fertility the Swedish Institute.

The rock formation of Stonehenge in England aligns perfectly with the movement of the sun on both the summer and winter solstices. Although its origins and reasons for its creation are not understood, Stonehenge has become one of the most popular places to observe the solstice.

Has Stonehenge moved? New clues suggest the prehistoric monument was first built in Wales in

Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY. Follow up on Arizona Republic reporter Shanti Lerner Twitter at @ShantiLerner.

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