Today at at 09:13 Universal Time (5:13 a.m. EDT) the Sun was directly above the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere.
This imaginary circle of latitude at 23.5° North that goes through Mexico, North Africa and India is as far north as the Sun appears to shine in the northern hemisphere—summer solstice!
The longest day of the year and the first day of meteorological summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s an occasion marked most famously by early-risers at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, UK, where the event is known as Midsummer’s Eve.
The 5,000 years old Neolithic monument is famed for its alignment with the midsummer sunrise. Cue about 6,000 people at the famous monument to witness the sunrise for the first since since the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also got a bonus in the form of a rare planetary alignment. In the east before the sunrise a First Quarter Moon shone close to Jupiter while all five naked-eye planets in the solar system were visible.
From the east to the south it was possible to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lined-up in order of their distance from the Sun. The Moon was between Jupiter and Saturn.
Before sunrise on Friday, June 24, 2022 is the last best chance to see the five naked-eye planets shining together until 2041. Mercury will again be the lowest and closest to the eastern horizon, followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn across 107º of sky. There will also be a waning 19%-lit crescent Moon between Venus and Mars.
The longest day and shortest night of the year for the northern hemisphere, June’s solstice is when Earth’s northern axis is tilted towards the Sun, which sits directly over the Tropic of Cancer. It’s as far north as the Sun ever gets in a year, so there’s the most sunlight—and so the longest day—in the northern hemisphere.
Exactly the opposite happens in the southern hemisphere, where June’s solstice sees the Sun at its lowest in the sky. So below the equator it’s the beginning of winter. In the northern hemisphere, the days will now get shorter and the nights longer, while in the southern hemisphere the days will now get longer and the nights shorter.