Watch Summer Solstice 2020 From Stonehenge Live Online

This year, the northern hemisphere's summer solstice falls on June 20, marking the longest day of the year.

In normal times, thousands of people would flock to the iconic prehistoric stone monument of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, southwestern England to celebrate the solstice in a tradition that has been observed for millennia and still carries spiritual importance for modern-day pagans.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, English Heritage—the organization that manages the monument—has cancelled the celebrations. The upside is that they will be providing a livestream of sunset and sunrise at Stonehenge on June 20 and June 21 respectively.

"The solstice is the exact moment that the northern hemisphere is most tilted towards the sun, which this year is Saturday 20 June 2020 at 10:43 p.m. British Summer Time [5:43 p.m. EDT.] Solstice is therefore celebrated on the sunrise and set that are closest to this time, this year this will the sunset of the 20th and rise of the 21st," English Heritage wrote on Facebook.

Sunset at Stonehenge on June 20 will take place at 9:26 p.m. British Summer Time (4:26 p.m. EDT or 1:26 p.m. PT) with live coverage starting about an hour before. Meanwhile, sunrise on June 21 will occur at 4:52 a.m. British Summer Time, which in the U.S. will be 11:52 p.m. EDT and 8:52 p.m. PT on June 20.

Stonehenge was built around 4,500 years ago during the Late Neolithic period by farmers and herders who considered the solstice to be a significant occasion. In fact, they carefully constructed the monument to align with the movements of the sun.

"The way that the stones are laid out in Stonehenge is set up to frame the sunrise at midsummer and the sunset at midwinter," English Heritage archaeologist Susan Greaney said in a Facebook video.

summer solstice, Stonehenge
Revellers watch the sunrise as they celebrate the pagan festival of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, southern England on June 21, 2018. GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images

At midsummer, the sun rises just over a stone known as the "Heel Stone" that lies outside the circle.

"What happens at midsummer is that the sun rises and you get a great shadow from the heel stone projecting towards the stone circle and from within, you can see the sun rising in that direction," Greaney said.

Marking the movements of the sun was important for the people that built Stonehenge. While there is relatively little evidence to indicate what kind of ceremonies may have taken place at the site thousands of years ago, the solstice likely had both spiritual and practical significance.

Aside from marking the seasons—thus dictating what and when to grow certain crops—the solstice may have been a time to remember the dead or worship a solar deity, according to English Heritage.