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What is The Summer Solstice?

Not sure what the big deal about June 20 is? Check this out to learn about the summer solstice.

You may or may not know that June 20 is the 2012 summer solstice. You have probably heard the words summer solstice a few hundred times in your life, but do you actually know what the term means? Let Patch be your dictionary.

On the most basic level, the summer solstice is the first day of summer. Yes that's right, spring does span into June, and high school summer vacation technically starts before the season it is named for.

The reason it's the first day of summer is where defining the solstice becomes a bit complicated. Many people refer to the summer solstice as the longest day of the year. Of course there are no more than 24 hours that separate June 19 and June 21, 2012. It's the sunlight that counts. 

On the day of the summer solstice, the earth's axial tilt is inclined toward the sun more than any other day of the year. Technically speaking, the tilt on this day peaks at 23° 26'. Because of this, there is a maximum of sunlight seconds on the day of the summer solstice.

In Capitola and Soquel on the Summer Solstice this year, the sun rose at 5:48 a.m. and will set at 8:30 p.m. according to sunrisesunset.com. By the end of summer, the sun will rise at 6:55 a.m. and set at 7:07 p.m.

If you're looking to celebrate the exact moment of this year's summer solstice, take your celebratory shot at 4:09 p.m. If you're looking to celebrate at that exact time, there are plenty of happy hours around. Check out Margaritaville's 5@5 specials just an hour later.

Careful not to mark your calendar for a June 20 celebration every year though, as the solstice can change slightly with our 365-day year not perfectly matching the universe's plan for planetary permutation. Next year, for example, the summer solstice will be on June 21.

Any Capitola Village beachfront restaurant would be a great place to take in the most direct sunlight of the year. If it's a romantic solstice you're after, try . Beware: the ribs are gigantic. You'll still be eating them when the winter solstice rolls around.

Are you doing anything to celebrate the most sunlight of the year? Tell us in the comments and happy summer solstice!

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