When is the longest day of the year? Everything you need to know about the summer solstice

As we move deeper into Summer, the evenings stay lighter for longer. But almost as soon as Summer arrives, so too does the summer solstice, meaning the days shorten as we tumble back towards winter.

Here's everything you need to know about the astronomical turning point.

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What is the summer solstice?

The summer solstice - which is also known as midsummer - is the moment when the Earth's rotational axis, or the geographical "pole" on which it spins, is most greatly inclined toward the star that it orbits.

This happens twice each year (once in each hemisphere), when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from either the North or South Pole.

The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.

When is it this year - exactly?

The summer solstice always occurs between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, six months on from the winter solstice, which falls between December 20 and December 23.

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In 2018, the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice falls on June 21.

The exact moment of the summer solstice will be 11:07 BST, but the colloquial term "midsummer" refers to the entire day on which the solstice occurs.

What does it mean for me?

The summer solstice gives us the 'longest' day of the year, which simply means that the sun will be above the horizon for more time than it is on any other day of the year.

Considering the 'length' of the day has been increasing in increments of only about two minutes a day since January, you'll hardly notice the difference.

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But it could be an excuse to throw that big summer bash, or invite everyone round for a barbecue. Weather permitting of course.

The summer solstice gives us our 'longest' day of the year (Photo: Shutterstock)

How long will the day be?

As with the other days of the year, the amount of sunlight you'll be able to experience varies depending upon where you live.

The difference can be as much as two hours on the day of the summer solstice, and those living in more northerly areas will have more daylight.

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For example, if you were to spend your day at Land's End, the difference between sunrise (5.13am) and sunset (9.36pm) gives you 16 hours and 23 minutes of sunlight.

Those in John o' Groats, where the sun rises at 4:02am and sets at 10.25pm, will have 18 hours and 23 minutes of sunlight.

Residents of Edinburgh (17 h 36 min) get an extra hour of daylight over Londoners (16 h 38 min).

What about the winter solstice?

That's a little way off yet, but it works in much the same way. In fact, the winter solstice occurs at the same time the summer solstice is occurring in the Southern Hemisphere.

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For us in the Northern Hemisphere, it's essentially the opposite of its summer equivalent, and marks the moment when the top half of the planet is angled at its furthest away from the sun.

This year's winter solstice falls on December 21.

Originally published on our sister title, iNews