Stargazing during the longest days of the year, 15 1/4 hours from sunrise until sunset, is a lot about appreciating our star, the sun.
Since the shortest days of the year in December, the sun has been rising earlier and setting later. We are nearing a turning point, when the dynamic will reverse.
The pace of change has slowed. We are in the middle of a two-week period when the sun rises at 5:17 every day, earliest of the year. The latest sunsets, 8:34, will begin in 10 days and repeat through July 1. The longest days of the year at our latitude, 15 hours 16 minutes, are from next Wednesday, the 19th, through the 25th.
Since May 31, and until July 13, the period between sunrise and sunset exceeds 15 hours. Coupled with a long twilight before sunrise and after sunset, we enjoy the expansive experience of living in the sun's light most (or all) of our waking hours. During this timeframe, the sky is truly dark for as little as five hours a day. The sun seems to "stand still" at its furthest northern position.
We are accustomed to celebrating the summer solstice, which will occur next Friday at 1:04 a.m., as the first day of summer. It is also observed as midsummer, given that half the growing season has been realized. A steady pace of leafy growth, a succession of blooms and setting fruit colors the landscapes of the northern hemisphere.
When looking to the starry heavens on warm summer nights, appreciate the multiplicity of suns in the universe. As for the planets of our solar system that resemble stars, notice Saturn to the left of the gibbous moon on Tuesday.
To contact Judy Isacoff go to www.naturesturn.org