Happy summer solstice!

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It’s the time of year with so many smiling faces… mostly because you can walk outside and have no risk of having to put on extra clothing, rain jackets not included.  At 11:24pm on Tuesday, we will hit the summer solstice… the point at which the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth is tilted the most toward the sun on its orbital path around it.  It’s this lean toward our closest star that gives us so much daylight, allowing our half of the Earth to warm to its peak.  But because the Earth only sits in one spot along its path for the blink of an eye, the summer solstice is a point… a moment… a flash of time… then the Northern Hemisphere begins its 6 month journey of tilting away from the sun.  Thankfully, for those that love the extra daylight, it’s a SLOW descent. 

The Twin Cities peaks with 15 hours and 36 minutes of daylight on the day of the solstice.  But the further north you go, the more daylight you receive.  For example, for International Falls, one of the state’s northern most points, a total of 16 hours and 8 minutes of daylight is observed at its peak… a full 30 minutes longer than the metro.  Contrast that with a location on a very similar longitude, say Dallas Texas, but is much further south, you get even less daylight.  Dallas peaks with 14 hours and 19 minutes of daylight… more than an hour less than the metro.  If you really want some extreme, around the Arctic Circle just north of Fairbanks, Alaska the sun never sets.  That’s right, they get a solid 6 weeks of straight daylight!

As for the sunrise and sunset, it is almost entirely dependent on time zone.  If you’re on the eastern side of the time zone, then you will have an early sunrise and an early sunset.  On the western fringes, you will have a late sunrise and a late sunset.  For the central time zone, places like Milwaukee have a sunset at 8:35pm, while the Twin Cities is at 9:03pm. But even further west, and right on the time zone border is Pierre, South Dakota with a sunset time of 9:30pm… a full hour difference just because of your time zone placement.