When Does Summer Start/End: Solstices, Equinoxes, Best Quotes and Facts About

Spring is here and the weather is gradually improving, with the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions meaning that we can finally start to make the most of the great outdoors once more.

Despite the reopening of pubs and restaurants outdoors, there’s still a little way to go until lockdown is fully lifted.

However, the Government’s plan tentatively indicates that – as long as its four tests are met – our lives could have returned to something like normal by summer.

Technically, thought, what actually constitutes the end of spring and start of summer depends on how you’re calculating it – here are the two possible start dates for the season this year, and how it all works.

When does summer start/End?

Photo: Good Fon.
Photo: Good Fon.

What is considered the first day of summer depends on whether you are using the meteorological or astronomical definition of the seasons.

The meteorological is the simpler of the two, splitting the year into four seasons of three full months apiece based on the Gregorian calendar, which makes it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics.

This means that every year summer begins on 1 June and lasts until 31 August, with autumn then getting underway on 1 September.

The astronomical season is less straightforward as it depends on the date of the summer solstice, which comes later in June and can vary slightly from year to year.

In 2021, the summer solstice falls on Monday 21 June, a day later than its most common position (when it was last year), although it can be any date between 20 and 22 of the month.

The astronomical summer then lasts until the autumnal equinox, which this year lands on Wednesday 22 September.

Astronomical summer

Photo: Town & Country Magazine
Photo: Town & Country Magazine

The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the Sun. Both Equinoxes and Solstices are related to the Earth's orbit around the Sun.

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For upcoming years, the dates for astronomical summer will be:

Year Summer Starts Summer Ends
Summer 2020 Saturday, 20 June 2020

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Summer 2021

Monday, 21 June 2021

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Summer 2022

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Friday, 23 September 2022

Summer 2023

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Summer 2024

Thursday, 20 June 2024

Sunday, 22 September 2024

7 Facts About Summer

1.The longest day of the year is in summer

The summer solstice marks the point when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky. This is the longest day of the year and after this point, the days slowly begin to get shorter until the winter solstice which occurs around 21 December.

At the same time as the Northern Hemisphere experiences the summer solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has a winter solstice marking the shortest day of the year.

2.Snow in June

On 2 June 1975, snow showers forced the abandonment of several cricket matches across the country.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in summer in the UK is -5.6 °C recorded on 9 June 1955 in Dalwhinnie, and again on 1 and 3 June 1962 in Santon Downham in Norfolk.

3.It's the most thundery time of the year

More thunderstorms occur during the summer than at any other time of the year.

The warmth of summer often provides the perfect conditions of rising air and moisture required for the creation of thunderstorms.

In the UK, they are most likely to occur in the East Midlands and the southeast.

4.Top temperatures

The warmest ever summer in the UK was in 2006 when daytime temperatures averaged 15.8 °C.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK was on 25 July 2019 when Cambridge University Botanic Garden recorded a sweltering 38.7 °C.

5.Midnight match

Every year on the summer solstice, a unique baseball game is played at the Growden Memorial Park known as the Midnight Sun Game.

Taking place in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Sun is out for almost 24 hours on the solstice and so the game begins at 10:30 pm and ends around 1:30 am without any artificial lighting.

The tradition originated in 1906 and has been played every year since 1960 by the Alaska Goldpanners.

6.Height of summer

Did you know that on a hot day in Paris, the Eiffel Tower grows taller?

The tower is constructed from iron and when this is warmed it expands, causing the structure to grow by up to 17 cm.

7.Dog days of summer

The phrase 'dogs days of summer' used to refer to sweltering summer days has more to do with the stars than dogs.

The Roman's 'dies caniculares' began towards the end of July when the star Sirius (known as the Dog Star) began to rise in the sky just before the Sun.

The star was so bright that the Romans believed it gave extra heat to the sun and was responsible for hot days in summer.

Meteorological summer

However, meteorologists are also interested in the beginning of the meteorological summer. Meteorological summer will always begin on 1 June; ending on 31 August.

The meteorological seasons consist of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each. These seasons are split to coincide with our Gregorian calendar, making it easier for meteorological observing and forecasting to compare seasonal and monthly statistics.

The seasons are defined as spring (March, April, May), summer (June, July, August), autumn (September, October, November) and winter (December, January, February).

Solstices and equinoxes

Solstices and equinoxes are the astronomical transition points between the seasons and mark key stages in the astronomical cycle of the Earth. In a year there are two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter). The dates of the Equinoxes and Solstices aren't fixed due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun. The Earth's orbit around the Sun means that in early January, the Sun is closest (known as perihelion) and in early July it is most distant (aphelion).

What is the summer solstice?

Photo: WallpaperTAG
Photo: WallpaperTAG

The summer solstice marks the date of the longest period of daylight and the shortest night of the year, when the Earth’s north pole has its maximum tilt towards the sun.

Slightly confusingly, as well as kicking off the astronomical season, the solstice can also be known as midsummer – because the days begin to get shorter after it has passed.

It has become synonymous with Stonehenge and paganism, but the occasion of the year’s longest day has been celebrated by cultures all over the world since prehistory.

Conversely, the winter solstice (or midwinter), which tends to fall around the 21 December, marks the shortest day of the year and the start of the astronomical season.

Equinoxes get their name from the Latin for “equal night”, and mark the only two points in the year when the equator is the closest part of Earth to the sun.

For six months each of the year, either the northern or southern hemisphere is pointing slightly more towards the sun, bringing the warmer temperatures of spring and summer.

The autumnal and spring equinoxes mark when the two hemispheres swap over, while the summer and winter solstices denote the sun reaching its most northerly and southerly points.

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Best Quotes for Summer

“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink in the wild air.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … It’s summertime!” — Kenny Chesney

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” — Charles Bowden

“Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.” — Langston Hughes

“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.” — Regina Brett

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” — Jenny Han

“Summer is singing with joy, and the beaches are inviting you with dancing waves.” — Debasish Mridha

“If summer had one defining scent, it’d definitely be the smell of barbecue.” — Katie Lee

“Long stormy spring-time, wet contentious April, winter chilling the lap of very May; but at length the season of summer does come.” — Thomas Carlyle

“When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble is too difficult to overcome.” — Wilma Rudolph

“Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.” — Yoko Ono

“Oh, the summer night, has a smile of light, and she sits on a sapphire throne.” — Bryan Procter

“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.” — Deb Caletti

“Smell the sea, and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly.” — Van Morrison

“In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible.” — Sarah Dessen

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” — John Keats

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see the shadows.” — Helen Keller

“Rejoice as summer should…chase away sorrows by living.” — Melissa Marr

“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” — Celia Thaxter

“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explode, and every sunset is different.” — John Steinbeck

“Summertime. It was a song. It was a season. I wondered if that season would ever live inside of me.” — Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket.” — Kellie Elmore

“It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer.” — Anna Godbersen

“A little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.” — John Mayer

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