Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year for most areas in the Northern Hemisphere. While most people celebrate the official start of the summer season all day long, the solstice is the actual moment in time when the sun’s rays pass directly over the Tropic of Cancer.


summer solstice graphic


In Alaska, that happens on June 20 at 2:34 p.m. In other years, the solstice can fall on June 21 or June 22.


The summer solstice is a lot longer in Alaska than in much of the Lower 48, because of the state’s higher latitude.


Barrow has been experiencing 24 hours of daylight since May 11, and that continues until August 1 when the sun sets after more than two and a half months above the horizon.


Anchorage daylight peaks today at 19 hours and 20 minutes, while Juneau will see 18 hours and 16 minutes of daylight today. However, the earliest sunrise in Anchorage happened on June 18 and the latest sunrise won’t happen until June 22.


A full moon will also coincide with this year’s solstice. You can catch the moonrise shortly 11 p.m. tonight depending on the weather.


Areas within the Northern Hemisphere begin losing daylight on the day after the summer solstice, and will reach a minimum on the winter solstice. In Anchorage, it starts with only a few seconds a day, but will climb to a loss of more than five minutes per day by late July.


To put this in perspective, the summer solstice in Anchorage is 13 hours and 54 minutes longer than the winter solstice in December.


KTVA’s Rachael Penton can be reached by email, or on Facebook or Twitter.