Summer Solstice 2014, the longest day of the year, will arrive on Saturday, providing most of the United States with nearly 15 hours of sunlight in many areas over a 24-hour period.
The solstice, taken from the Latin word for "sun stationary," happens when the Earth reaches the northernmost point of its orbit around the sun, according to Space.com
. Since the Earth tilts 23.4 degrees to its orbit, just the opposite is happening in the Southern Hemisphere, where continents like Australia and Africa will be experiencing the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year.
But just because the Northern Hemisphere will be at its closest point to the sun all year doesn't mean Saturday will be hottest.
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"That's because it takes the Earth a while to warm up in summer and to cool down in winter," Space.com's Geoff Garherty wrote. "All of Earth's seasons lag about six weeks behind the exact dates dictated by the geometry of Earth's orbit. While many people think the solstices mark the start of summer and winter, they actually represent the midpoint of each season, even if it might not feel like it."
The Summer Solstice has been recognized with various celebrations around the United States and the globe. About 20,000 people are expected to celebrate the event at Stonehenge in England, according to eFestivals.co.uk
Some celebrations, though, have proven to be more controversial. The Daily Mail reported that animal rights activists have protested
for years in the Chinese town of Yulin, which reportedly commemorates the event by eating dogs.
Deng Yidan, an activist with Animals Asia, told the Daily Mail that while public outcry has not stopped the tradition, it has forced Yulin and China to take more notice.
"Negative coverage is growing — dog theft, criminal activities, food hygiene issues, and rabies fears — not to mention the division in society between those for and against the festival — together these have brought significantly more negative publicity to Yulin than economic benefits," Deng said in a statement, according to the Daily Mail.
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