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This year, the northern summer solstice falls on June 21 at 5:13 am EDT (June 21 at 9:13 UT).
Solstices occur simultaneously around the world, but their local times vary with time zones.
Traditionally, summer and winter solstices helped mark the changing of the seasons. Today, meteorologists officially use temperature records instead to draw lines between the seasons.
The Earth's axis of rotation is tilted about 23. degrees relative to Earth's orbit around the sun. This tilt causes the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to get unequal amounts of sunlight over a year.
The Earth's axis is tilted most closely toward the sun for two moments each year. These are called solstices. The Northern Hemisphere is tilted more toward the sun from September to March, which feels like autumn and winter. The hemisphere tilted most toward our home star sees its longest day and the hemisphere tilted away from the sun sees its longest night.
Cultures around the world have devised ways to celebrate and revere celestial events.
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