Rain clouds cover summer solstice

THICK rain clouds made the summer solstice a bit of an anti-climax for sun lovers anticipating the celestial event.

The southern hemisphere experienced the longest day of the year – in terms of daylight – yesterday, with the sun rising at 4.50am and setting at 6.43pm.

It would have provided Ipswich with nearly 14 beautiful hours of summer sunshine if not for that pesky La Niña effect.

Daylight will gradually become shorter from today until we reach the autumnal equinox on March 21.

The Weather Channel senior meteorologist Dick Whitaker said the Earth's axis of rotation was at an angle of about 23 degrees to its orbital plane.

“As a result, for half the year the northern hemisphere is inclined toward the sun, and during the other half of the year the southern hemisphere is. When the inclination has a maximum effect we call it the solstices,” Mr Whitaker said.

The summer solstice is an important day on the Pagan calendar and has been a noteworthy date for many centuries.

“Ancient societies that marked the summer solstice in various ways included the Druids, people of prehistoric Europe, the Incas, ancient Swedes, Native Americans and ancient Romans,” Mr Whitaker said.

“The solstice was a time for prayer, celebration, and festivals.”

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