The science and culture of the summer solstice in 18 colorful images.
Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

The summer solstice is culture and science all wrapped up in one.

For some, it's a day to dress up in your "Silver Lake Shaman" best and throw a party. To science types, it's technically the days when our planet's rotational axis is most inclined toward the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, that happens every year on June 20-21 while in the Southern Hemisphere, it's Dec. 20-21.

In the U.S., the summer solstice is largely an unofficial holiday. But in many countries, like Sweden, it's a time for love. "A lot of children are born nine months after Midsummer in Sweden," according to Swedish ethnologist Jan-Öjvind Swahn.


For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. Here's how some have marked the moment.

Thousands started the day by making the trek to Stonehenge. It's widely believed the historic landmark was used to mark the occasion when the sun reaches its zenith in the sky.

Epic photography ensued.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

June 21 also just happens to be the International Day of Yoga, giving people a chance to blend the two occasions.

Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

But science has a lot to say about solstices, too.

NASA dropped some fun facts.

And, of course, Neil deGrasse Tyson was there in signature fashion to get hilariously technical about it.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared this incredible satellite view as the solstice formally made its way across the planet.

And here's a nice visual breakdown of seasonal changes:

While we're celebrating the sun, don't forget to respect its power. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took a moment to encourage everyone stepping out to use sunscreen.

Not to be outdone by their Stonehenge neighbors, crowds gathered in Avebury, England, near another historic neolithic henge that has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, the tiny Russian village of Glubokovo is home to an ancient pagan ceremony, one of the oldest known summer solstice celebrations in the world. While most solstice events honor the rising sun, this annual affair flips the script to mark one of the year's shortest nights.

Photo by Andrei Borodulina/Getty Images.

Photo by Andrei Borodulina/Getty Images.

Photo by Andrei Borodulina/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, other people there decided it was the right time to heroically take a nap.

We salute you.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

As the world shifts on its axis, it's a time to reflect on our relationship with the only home we've got.

The return of summer months can be a welcome respite from a long, cold winter. Maybe you'll hit up a barbecue, do some yoga, or chant to your deity. Maybe it will just be another day. That's OK, too.

However you mark the occasion, there's no other day quite like it.

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Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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