Summer Solstice Google Doodle Celebrates Start of 2021 Summer Season

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Google Doodles are special temporary alterations to the internet giant's homepage logo to commemorate things like holidays, events, achievements and historical figures.

Summer Solstice falls between June 20 and June 21 and marks the longest day of the year and the official beginning of the astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

As the Encyclopædia Britannica explains: The Summer Solstice is the "moment in the year when the Sun's apparent path is farthest north" from the Earth's Equator.

"At the time of the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted about 23.4 degrees toward the Sun. Because the Sun's rays are shifted northward by the same amount, the vertical noon rays are directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer," it reads.

Solstice is celebrated on the sunrise and sunset that are closest to this time, which this year fell on June 21.

Stonehenge in southwest England, which has long been central to Summer Solstice celebrations, will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight today.

The sun rose at 4:52 a.m. BST (11:52 p.m. EDT or 8:52 p.m. PT on Sunday, June 20) on June 21 and will set at 9:26 p.m. BST.

The astronomical summer officially ends on September 22 with the Autumn Equinox, when the sun crosses the celestial equator and moves southward. In the Northern Hemisphere, day and night will be of almost equal length on September 22.

From June 22 the days will start getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere, with the reverse phenomenon unfolding in the Southern Hemisphere.

The decreasing daylight, however, is minimal during the summer months, but becomes more noticeable as the calendar shifts to September.

To put it into context, by the time the Winter Solstice falls on December 21, Stonehenge will see just 7 hours and 50 minutes of daylight, some 8 hours and 48 minutes fewer than on June 21.

While the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is the shortest and marks the beginning of the astronomical winter.

The dates are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, where June 21 marks the shortest day of the year and December 21 is the day with the longest amount of daylight in 12 months.

Advice Not to Travel to Stonehenge

Summer Solstice celebrations in Stonehenge were disrupted on June 21, as people disregarded advice not to travel to the Neolithic site.

English Heritage—the organization that manages Stonehenge—canceled the Summer Solstice celebrations last week, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the lifting of COVID restrictions, which capped the maximum amount of people permitted at any outdoor event to 4,000.

As it did 12 months ago, English Heritage set up a livestream to watch the Summer Solstice online and urged people to stay away.

The advice, however, fell on deaf ears and the organization was forced to temporarily pull its live feed.

"I must say we have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning and that is the reason why we haven't been able to bring you the pictures that we would have liked to have done," host Ed Shires was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard.

"It is disappointing to see that happen but unfortunately in those kind of situations we have to put the safety of our staff members first and that's why we have had some interruption this morning."

Summer in the UK
The sun rises over the North Sea on the morning of the summer solstice at Saltburn beach on June 21 in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, England. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its highest and northern-most points in the sky. It marks the astronomical start of summer in the northern half of the globe. The U.K. will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images