Summer is here at last.
The summer solstice – the exact moment when the sun is at its highest point in the sky each year – is at 5:44 p.m. EDT June 20. This marks the beginning of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
In reality, in many parts of the country, it's felt like summer for at least three weeks, which is why meteorologists call summer the hottest three months of the year (June, July and August).
But the real heat is still to come: On average, there is a one-month lag between the solstice and peak summer temperatures, according to climatologist Brian Brettschneider. That's why July is almost always the hottest month of the year in most locations.
And it's likely to be a hot one: The Climate Prediction Center's latest forecast through August is for warmer-than-average temperatures for most of the U.S.
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During the solstice, at 5:54 p.m. Saturday, the sun will be directly above the Tropic of Cancer. That's the farthest north the sun moves in the sky, which is why the days close to the solstice have the most daylight of the year.
Some people call it "the longest day of the year," but to be precise, it's the day with the most daylight because every "day" has 24 hours.
The amount of daylight will be roughly consistent for a few more days before shrinking each day until the winter solstice in late December.
Many people around the world celebrate the summer solstice with music and festivities. In England, hundreds of people, including druids and pagans, usually travel to the ancient site of Stonehenge for the first day of summer.
However, this year, summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge will not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic, CTV News reports. Instead, the sunrise and sunset that day will be livestreamed, said English Heritage, the organization that manages the site.
Solstice observations there have been going on annually for thousands of years.
And while Saturday is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, as folks down there are bundling up for winter.
The reason we have solstices, equinoxes and seasons is because the Earth is tilted on its axis, thanks to a random collision with another object untold billions of years ago.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: First day of summer: Solstice, when we see most daylight, is June 20