What happens during solstice?

The June Solstice, also known as the winter solstice, marks the day with the most number of night time hours in the southern hemisphere. The Sun appears at its lowest in the sky, with the least angle to Earth, and we receive less sunlight and warmth. But it isn’t the latest sunrise or the earliest sunset: this is because of the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun is an ellipse, and because the Earth is off-centre on its axis. Together, these factors mean a difference of several minutes difference between solar and mean time.

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because the Sun was believed to stop moving, before changing direction.

How does the solstice work?

The Earth orbits the Sun once every 365.242 days, and if it wasn’t for the added day in a leap year every four years all of our seasons would drift later in the year. For more info about how solstices work exactly, check out the post made by our friends over at Stargazers Club WA.

When is the solstice this year?

The June solstice occurs at 4:50am on the 21st of June this year for people in Western Australia.

Why the ‘June solstice’?

Other than that the solstice occurs in June, we prefer to call it the June solstice because we recognise that we live on Nyoongar country in Western Australia, and the Nyoongar people observe six seasons.

In the Nyoongar calendar, the months of June and July are in the season of Makuru, the coldest and wettest time of the year with occasional snow on the peaks of the Stirling and Porongurup Ranges.

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