A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21. In many countries, the seasons of the year are determined by reference to the solstices and the equinoxes.

UT date and time of
equinoxes and solstices on Earth[1][2]
event equinox solstice equinox solstice
month March[3] June[4] September[5] December[6]
year daytime daytime daytime daytime
2017 2010:292104:252220:022116:29
2018 2016:152110:072301:542122:22
2019 2021:582115:542307:502204:19
2020 2003:502021:432213:312110:03
2021 2009:372103:322219:212115:59
2022 2015:332109:142301:042121:48
2023 2021:252114:582306:502203:28
2024 2003:072020:512212:442109:20
2025 2009:022102:422218:202115:03
2026 2014:462108:252300:062120:50
2027 2020:252114:112306:022202:43

The term solstice can also be used in a broader sense, as the day when this occurs. The day of a solstice in either hemisphere has either the most sunlight of the year (summer solstice) or the least sunlight of the year (winter solstice) for any place other than the Equator. Alternative terms, with no ambiguity as to which hemisphere is the context, are "June solstice" and "December solstice", referring to the months in which they take place every year.[7]

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol ("sun") and sistere ("to stand still"), because at the solstices, the Sun's declination appears to "stand still"; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun's daily path (as seen from Earth) pauses at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction.

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