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MANILA - Did you feel like today was the longest day? Maybe because it is. The summer solstice, where the night is shortest and the day longest, is today, Thursday, June 21, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Pagasa said the summer solstice occurs when the sun achieves its "greatest declination of +23.5 degrees and passes directly overhead at noon." This simply means that the North Pole is tipped more toward the sun and as the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher in the sky until it seems to be at a standstill.
The summer solstice signals the start of the summer season for some parts of the world, including Western countries. In the Philippines, the summer solstice occurred at 7:09 a.m., according to Pagasa.
According to the state weather bureau, sunrise today occurred at 5:28 a.m. and the sun will set at 6:28 p.m.
According to National Geographic, although the summer solstice marks the start of summer, it does not automatically mean that it is the hottest day of the year for countries in the Northern Hemisphere. It explained that although the earth was absorbing the sun's rays, it would still take several weeks to release the heat. Thus, hottest days of summer usually occur in either July or August.
The summer solstice is considered a significant and highly-celebrated event for some cultures. The word solstice is derived from the Latin words "sol" (sun) and "sistere" (to stand still).
Ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramids so that the sun set precisely between the two Pyramids during the summer solstice. The Incans also celebrated the solstice by giving food offerings and animal sacrifices. This is because the sun is a symbol often associated with harvest and good fortune.