summer solsticeSummer officially arrives today. Each day forward, we will head to bed later as early dawns, long days, late sunsets, and short nights begin. Today will be the longest day of the year.

Of course, in our little neck of the woods that’s hard to believe. Temperatures in the thirties and forties greet us every morning.

Still today at 22:34 UTC or 4:34 p.m. in MDT the sun will reach its highest point signaling the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, south of the equator, winter begins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASummer solstice has been around since the world begin. Ancient cultures recognized that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. Stonehenge stands as a testament to their knowledge.  The summer solstice sun rises directly above the heel stone at Stonehenge.

Psychologists have long suspected a link between our level of happiness and the amount of sunlight in the day. Studies discovered what truly mattered was not the absolute amount of daylight but the relative change in that daylight. Or, was the day longer or shorter than the day that came before?

When the change in daylight was positive (as approaching the summer solstice), people expressed significantly higher positive affect than they did when that change was negative (i.e., approaching the winter solstice).

Therefore, today should be a long, happy day.

Not only will we have more daylight, tonight is a full moon.

Summer_of_Love_thumbIndian tribes called the June full moon a Strawberry Moon while Europeans call it Rose Moon. Whatever you call it, it’s the Northern Hemisphere’s first summer solstice full moon since 1967, the summer known as the Summer of Love.

Personally, I missed the Summer of Love — something about my husband’s Army duty tour in Asia.

In case you missed that summer too, scores of hippies converged in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. The city became a melting pot of politics, music, drugs, creativity, and total lack of sexual and social inhibition. The birth place of the hippie movement.

Tonight’s phenomenon of a full moon and the June solstice on the same day won’t happen again until June 21, 2062.

Don’t know about you, but I won’t be around for the next event, so I’m going out to peek at the sky. Join me.