What Exactly Is Summer Solstice?

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Revellers watch sunrise over Stonehenge during celebrations to mark the summer solstice at the prehistoric monument on June 21, 2014 in Wiltshire, England. An estimated 37,000 revellers and modern day druids gathered at Stonehenge, a tradition dating back thousands of years, to celebrate the solstice and watch the sunrise. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND – JUNE 21: Revellers watch sunrise over Stonehenge during celebrations to mark the summer solstice at the prehistoric monument on June 21, 2014 in Wiltshire, England. An estimated 37,000 revellers and modern day druids gathered at Stonehenge, a tradition dating back thousands of years, to celebrate the solstice and watch the sunrise. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rufus Cox/Getty Images)

Sunshine revelers in the Northern Hemisphere have been enjoying the days growing longer and the evenings growing brighter; but now, that trend will be reversed. Sunday is summer solstice, the longest day of the year above the equator and the turning point after which the sun starts rising later and setting earlier.

“Solstice” comes from the Latin solsitium, or “sun stands still.” The sun does indeed appear to stand still on the solstice, as it reaches its highest point in the sky. This illusion occurs because the Earth’s is tilted as far as it goes toward the sun.

The solstice marks the official first day of summer, and has been celebrated for its symbolic importance since ancient times.

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SOURCE: TIME, Sarah Begley

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