Summer is upon us and with it comes warm days and some outdoor delight. For now, here are interesting summer facts and trivia to feast on.
The word “summer” comes from the proto-Indo-European root word “sam,” meaning summer. A variant of the root “sam” is “sem,” which means “together/one.” This year the astronomical summer kicks off on June 21, and this calendar determines the seasons based on the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis in its orbit around the sun. The meteorological summer, on the other hand, starts on June 1. Meteorological seasons coincide with the Gregorian calendar to make it easier to observe and forecast for comparing seasonal statistics.
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The longest day of the year occurs in summer. It’s dubbed the Equinox and Solstice, marking the point when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. After this day, the days gradually get shorter until the winter solstice occurs around December 22. While the Northern Hemisphere goes through summer solstice, the Southern Hemisphere experiences a winter solstice that marks the shortest day of the year.
In the United States, more than 650 million long-distance summer trips are made. The country’s top summer destinations are the beach/ocean, a popular city, national parks, a lake, and a resort. In France, meanwhile, the summer heat makes the iron of the Eiffel Tower expand, making the tower grow over six inches.
Have you heard of the saying “dog days of summer”? It pertains more to the stars than dogs – the Romans’ “dies caniculares” started toward the end of July when the star Sirius – also known as the “Dog Star” – began to ascend in the sky just before the sun. The bright star was also believed to enhance the heat of the sun during the summer.
Jim Byrne currently works as the meteorological consultant for the Weather Channel program “So you think you’d survive.” He studied meteorology and journalism at San Jose State University. Read more on this page.