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Poor Will's Almanack: June 16 - 22, 2020

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Amanda Emilio
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Flickr Creative Commons

Solstice occurs on June 22nd at 4:44 p.m. and before and after that time, the sun holds steady at its highest noontime height above the horizon for four days, June 20 - 23, after which it slowly begins to descend towards December's winter solstice.

Although this period brings the longest nights of the year, the changes before and after June 22nd are so slow that summer can seem to last forever. In fact, the sun has reached about 85 percent of its solstice declination or apparent height in the sky by May 22nd, at which time sunrise and sunset are only a quarter of an hour each from their solstice times.

After June 22nd, the sun descends slowly throughout the rest of June and well into July staying at least 85 percent of its solstice height and with similar sunrise and sunset times until around July 22nd. So the upshot is that between May 22nd and July 22nd, the day remains so stable that one might imagine and pretend that summer really could last forever. 

Now, the sun's apparent descent towards autumn does pick up speed in late July and the night starts to lengthen at twice and then three times the rate that it did between May and July 22nd. And then everything seems to fall apart. But that's another story. 

The good news is that between May 22nd and July 22nd or thereabouts, summer just will not end.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will's Almanack, and I'll be back again next week with notes that the first week of Deep Summer. In the meantime, give in. Pretend the days will always be long and sweet.  

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.