The summer of 2020, which officially begins Saturday, promises to be one for the record books, with mass coronavirus-related cancellations of the concerts, festivals, sporting events and even family vacations that Americans typically pack into their calendars.
The 2020 June solstice, marking the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs at 5:44 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Saturday.
The sun travels its longest path through the sky on the day of the summer solstice, which occurs the exact moment Sol reaches its highest and northernmost points in the sky, making it the longest day of the year in terms of daylight.
You can read more about the science of the summer solstice on The Old Farmer’s Almanac website. The more urgent concern is how you’re going to spend the summer.
Here are some things to do this summer that the coronavirus either won’t cancel or has given us a greater chance to enjoy:
17-Year Cicadas Serenade On Schedule
Cicadas aren’t for everyone. Some people lose themselves in the high-pitched hum of these insects that come out regularly on summer evenings. They set up a racket that others would prefer to live without.
But those characters will have some company in some parts of the country this year.
Millions of cicadas will emerge in parts of southwestern Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia this year for a ritual they’ve been preparing for over 17 years: the chance to mate.
And by millions of cicadas, Virginia Tech entomologist Eric Day means as many as 1.5 million per acre.
They’re going to chirp about it loudly, too. (Wouldn’t you?)
“Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue," Day told the Virginia Tech Daily. “Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent — and amazing — this event is.”
These particular periodic cicadas — they come out every 13 or 17 years, depending on the species — are known as Brood IX and last made an appearance in 2003. Magicicada has a handy periodical cicada mapping site.
Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Is it just me, you may be wondering, or is there an unusually large number of creatures that didn’t get the social distancing memo?
Oh, the animals got it alright. And they’re loving that people are cooped up, according to radioecologist Tom Hinton of Japan’s Fukushima University.
“Nature has issued a sigh of relief,” Hinton, who is a co-author of a new study that looks at how animals fare in the long term when people leave a densely inhabited area, told National Geographic. The study will inform decisions on setting aside wildlife habitats and creating a level of non-interference from humans to benefit wildlife in the long term.
You shouldn’t go out and try to commune with a grizzly bear or anything, but you never know what you might find creeping up to your deck or encounter when you’re out on a walk.
Golf Is Back, And Booze Never Left
Finally, sports fans have something new to watch on TV, and it’s a good time to convince your hockey-loving buddy of the virtues of this genteel sport. Besides, every other sport is on hiatus, so what is there to lose?
Golf, like every other sport, halted in mid-March with the coronavirus shutdowns, but it came back earlier this month when the PGA Tour play resumed. With less competition for your attention from other sports, this could be golf’s year.
With 5.8 million viewers, “The Match II” — a charity golf match involving Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady last month — was the most-watched golf telecast in the history of cable television, according to Turner Sports.
Sit down. Relax. Use your golf voice. Have a drink of something classy. Or beer. It really doesn’t matter.
The RBC Heritage is on the tube all weekend.
Light Your Fire In The Backyard
Humans have been drawn to fire since time began, using it for heat, light and protection against predators.
Depending on where you live, nothing says summer like gathering — a safe distance apart from one another — and spinning stories around a bonfire in the backyard. Suburban dwellers will have to rely on a fire pit, fire ring or chiminea, and the use of those is often regulated by city and fire officials.
Put Your Head In The Sky
You’ll have to wait a bit to lose yourself in the full wonder of the summer sky. The summer meteor showers start in July with the Delta Aquarids, which run for more than a month and peak July 28-29.
But the shooting star show you really want to catch is the Perseid meteor shower, which produces up to 60 shooting stars an hour at the peak. The shower, which runs July 17 to Aug. 24, is known for producing large numbers of bright meteors. A second-quarter moon will wash out some of the faintest meteors, but this shower is so bright and prolific that it should still be a winner. The Perseids fly mainly after midnight and can be seen anywhere in the sky, though they radiate from the constellation Perseus.
You’ll also have three chances to howl at the full moon this summer: July 5, Aug. 3 and Sept. 2. A perfect primordial tradition has developed in some neighborhoods as people seek new ways to stay connected while staying apart: Every evening at 7 o’clock, they step out on their decks and start howling.