The number of hours of sun is determined by the angle of the earth's north-south axis to the sun. The greater the tilt towards the sun, the more sunshine the northern half of the earth gets. There is also a winter solstice, when the hemisphere undergoes the shortest day of the year.
The summer solstice is celebrated in many cultures around the world and has played a very important role in history. For example, the Egyptians built their pyramids so that when the sunset on summer solstice is viewed from the Sphinx, it is located right between two of the pyramids.
In South America, the Incas held summer solstice ceremonies with food and animal sacrifices in honour of the earth. They all worshipped our planet.
Summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, in Britain, still take place today, continuing a 5,000-year-old tradition.
All of these traditions focused on the fact that it was a new growing season and important time for the crops. Ancient cultures were in tune with their environment and they paid close attention to the changes around them.
Today, few people pay close attention to how the earth's position relates to the sun, the moon or the stars. It's still a part of our lives, but we've built cities and infrastructure that protect us from the natural workings of the earth. Instead of worshipping the earth, we've begun harming our environment on a large scale.
Summer solstice can be a good reminder to once again pay attention to our environment and the incredible science that makes it work. Perhaps if we think about how the earth works, we'll again be filled with wonder at its intricate beauty and feel committed to protecting nature.
We don't have to sacrifice animals or do a dance for nature the way our ancestors did, but we can use the opportunity to pause and consider the environment around us.
Living in modern cities, we've isolated ourselves from nature. But we play a more important role than ever in its well-being.
Cameron is available to speak to primary and secondary students about environmental and climate change issues as well as his recent Arctic sailing expedition. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org