The science and culture of the summer solstice in 18 colorful images.
Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

The summer solstice is culture and science all wrapped up in one.

For some, it's a day to dress up in your "Silver Lake Shaman" best and throw a party. To science types, it's technically the days when our planet's rotational axis is most inclined toward the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, that happens every year on June 20-21 while in the Southern Hemisphere, it's Dec. 20-21.

In the U.S., the summer solstice is largely an unofficial holiday. But in many countries, like Sweden, it's a time for love. "A lot of children are born nine months after Midsummer in Sweden," according to Swedish ethnologist Jan-Öjvind Swahn.


For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. Here's how some have marked the moment.

Thousands started the day by making the trek to Stonehenge. It's widely believed the historic landmark was used to mark the occasion when the sun reaches its zenith in the sky.

Epic photography ensued.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

June 21 also just happens to be the International Day of Yoga, giving people a chance to blend the two occasions.

Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

But science has a lot to say about solstices, too.

NASA dropped some fun facts.

And, of course, Neil deGrasse Tyson was there in signature fashion to get hilariously technical about it.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared this incredible satellite view as the solstice formally made its way across the planet.

And here's a nice visual breakdown of seasonal changes:

While we're celebrating the sun, don't forget to respect its power. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took a moment to encourage everyone stepping out to use sunscreen.

Not to be outdone by their Stonehenge neighbors, crowds gathered in Avebury, England, near another historic neolithic henge that has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, the tiny Russian village of Glubokovo is home to an ancient pagan ceremony, one of the oldest known summer solstice celebrations in the world. While most solstice events honor the rising sun, this annual affair flips the script to mark one of the year's shortest nights.

Photo by Andrei Borodulina/Getty Images.

Photo by Andrei Borodulina/Getty Images.

Photo by Andrei Borodulina/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, other people there decided it was the right time to heroically take a nap.

We salute you.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

As the world shifts on its axis, it's a time to reflect on our relationship with the only home we've got.

The return of summer months can be a welcome respite from a long, cold winter. Maybe you'll hit up a barbecue, do some yoga, or chant to your deity. Maybe it will just be another day. That's OK, too.

However you mark the occasion, there's no other day quite like it.

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As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

I worked as a substitute teacher in my early 20s, almost exclusively in middle schools and high schools—my age of specialty. Once, I accepted a two-day subbing assignment in a first grade classroom. Only once. Halfway through the first day, as the kids ate lunch in the cafeteria, I sat at the teacher's desk in an exhausted daze. Teaching little kids was a completely different animal than teaching big kids. While adorable, they had so many needs and so little attention span. It was like herding a bunch of flies that constantly needed to go potty.

Trying to herd those flies virtually during a pandemic is too much to even fathom.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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