Summer Solstice Celebrations - Paul Townsend via Flickr

All About Solstices & Equinoxes

In the celestial dance, the earth has a fascinating set of steps. Thanks to the earth’s axial tilt and our position relative to the sun, we experience four distinct seasons across most of the globe. These atmospheric changes occur on a regular pattern, and a few days mark the passing each year. These are called the solstices – when the day and night are at their maximum/minimum – and the equinoxes – when day and night share.

The June & December Solstices

The two semi-annual solstices mark the extremes: when one part of the earth is tilted toward the sun and the other is tilted away.

The June solstice occurs around June 21st each year; at this time the northern hemisphere is angled toward the sun, creating long days, short nights, and warm weather. Conversely those in the southern hemisphere experience winter during the months around this date as that part of the globe is angled away from the sun.

The December solstice occurs around December 21st and is when the northern hemisphere is tipped away from the sun and experiencing the long dark nights of winter. Around this date, the southern hemisphere experiences the long, warm days of summer.

Learn more about each of these days and how people mark them in different parts of the world:

June Solstice Card
December Solstice Card

The March & September Equinoxes

On the four points of the compass – two of which point to the opposing solstices; the other two are the equinoxes. On these days, the day and night are roughly “equal” – hence the name.

The March equinox occurs roughly on March 21st; the September equinox occurs roughly on September 21st. On these days, the share of time is roughly equal between when the sun is above the horizon and below it.

Learn more about each of these days and how people mark them in different parts of the world:

March Equinox Card
September Equinox Card