Summer solstice 2013: Longest day, best Mercury-spotting

The summer solstice is the moment when the Earth's orbital motion points the Earth's North Pole most closely in the direction of the Sun.

The summer solstice marks the official beginning of the summer season, and it also marks the longest day of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the start of winter.

Both the winter and summer solstice events are traditionally celebratory, and in many cultures throughout history they have held a great deal of significane.

"This tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet during Earth's year-long orbit around the sun", the report said. The animation commemorates the Summer Solstice, which we're all now in the thick of - it technically began today at 1:04 a.m. ET, when the sun rose directly over the Tropic of Cancer, above the Chinese Province of Yunnan (according to New York City's Hayden Planetarium).

Though just because they say "directly overhead", doesn't really mean it will be directly overhead for everyone.

National Geographic said, "For every degree of latitude north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun will appear to be at a corresponding degree south of the zenith, or highest point in the sky".

"Skywatchers are gearing up for the arrival of the 2013 supermoon, which is set to peak June 22-23 and deliver the biggest, brightest moon of the year".

A photo released by the GOES-13 weather satellite reveals a sparkling blue Earth dotted with clouds to mark the northern summer solstice - the official start of summer in the north.

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