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Today Is the Longest Day of the Year. Here's What to Know About the 2018 Summer Solstice

Today Is the Longest Day of the Year. Here's What to Know About the 2018 Summer SolsticeThere are 17 hours of sunlight



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Summer solstice 2018: Everything you need to know about the longest day of the year

Summer solstice 2018: Everything you need to know about the longest day of the yearIt may feel like summer arrived weeks ago: deckchairs are already out in parks, holidays are booked, barbecues have been fired up and – in true British fashion – we've no idea what to wear to our air-conditioned offices. But technically speaking astronomical summer didn't begin until today, when Britain enjoys the longest day of 2018. Read on below to find everything you need to know about summer, the solstice, traditions, the significance of Stonehenge – and how to celebrate it. When is the longest day of the year? In the northern hemisphere, summer solstice, or longest day of the year, takes place between June 20 and 22 each year.  This year it falls today - Thursday, June 21 - when the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. The sun rose at 4.43am and will set at 9.31pm, according to weather.com.  The crowd cheers as the sun rises through the stones on the longest day of the year. Happy #SummerSolstice! pic.twitter.com/sNhNKEGExR— English Heritage (@EnglishHeritage) June 21, 2018 The solstice officially marks the beginning of astronomical summer which ends when the autumn equinox falls on September 23. Day and night will be at almost equal length on this day, as the sun crosses the celestial equator and moves southward into the northern hemisphere. Read about how Stonehenge builders used Pythagoras' theorem 2,000 years before Greek philosopher was born What happens during the summer solstice? There are two solstices each year – one in the winter and one in the summer. The summer solstice occurs when the when the tilt of Earth's axis is most inclined towards the sun and is directly above the Tropic of Cancer. Traditionally, the summer solstice period fell between the planting and harvesting of crops, leaving people who worked the land time to relax. This is why June became the traditional month for weddings. It might seem like a day to celebrate, but it actually signals the moment the sun's path stops moving northward in the sky, and the start of days becoming steadily shorter as the slow march towards winter begins.  However, we won't notice the days becoming shorter for a while. The shortest day of the year isn't until Thursday, December 21, known as the winter solstice; it lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes and 41 seconds in Britain, which is 8 hours, 49 minutes shorter than the June solstice. Summer solstice 2018 gallery At the winter solstice, the Earth's axis is tilted furthest away from the sun directly over the Tropic of Capricorn bringing only a few hours of daylight. In the southern hemisphere the dates of the two solstices are reversed. The winter solstice occurs on the same day in June and the summer solstice the same day in December. The term 'solstice' derives from the Latin word 'solstitium', meaning 'sun standing still'. Some prefer the more teutonic term 'sunturn' to describe the event. Astrologers say the sun seems to 'stand still' at the point on the horizon where it appears to rise and set, before moving off in the reverse direction. Equinox and solstice explainer graphic Summer solstice traditions: why is Stonehenge so significant? Stonehenge in Avebury, Wiltshire is the most popular place for Pagans to celebrate the longest day because it famously aligns to the solstices. The rising sun only reaches the middle of the stones one day of the year when it shines on the central altar. Built in three phases between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C Stonehenge's exact purpose still remains a mystery. The stones were brought from very long distances – the bluestones from the Preseli Hills more than 150 miles away, and the sarsens probably from the Marlborough Downs, 19 miles to the north. Britain's most mysterious stone circles The day marks the ancient middle of summer. It has significance for pagans who have always believed that midsummer day holds a special power.  Midsummer's eve was believed to be a time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, and when fairies were though to be at their most powerful. Night sky: how and where to see noctilucent clouds Over the centuries, the June solstice has inspired many festivals and midsummer celebrations involving bonfires, picnics, singing, watching the sun rise and Maypole dancing. Many towns and villages across Britain still mark the day.  One ritual was the lighting of fires, heralding the start of shorter days, although this doesn't really happen anymore. The idea was that flames would keep the dark away.  Revellers at the Summer Solstice Sunrise at Stonehenge, earlier today Credit:  Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph Where can I celebrate the summer solstice? Stonehenge always welcomes an influx of garland-wearing hippies, druids and curious tourists who head to the mysterious stone circles and wait for the sun to appear.  Crowds of around 20,000 greet the moment dawn breaks with a mixture of cheers and silent meditation, and the strawberry moon added extra excitement this year.  The solstice car park opened on Wednesday at 7pm ahead of the sunset at 9:26pm.  Crowds cheered the rise of the sun at Stonehenge as thousands gathered to celebrate the summer solstice. Dawn is breaking over Stonehenge at #SummerSolsticepic.twitter.com/OXyLhHcffX— English Heritage (@EnglishHeritage) June 21, 2018 Those who observed the spectacle at the neolithic Wiltshire monument were blessed with clear skies as the sun glinted over the horizon at 4.52am. The sunrise over Stonehenge this morning Credit: Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph It's slightly quieter at the Avebury stone circle, Britain's second greatest prehistoric site, about 20 miles from Stonehenge. In Penzance, the Golowan Festival celebrates the summer solstice from June 23 to 28. If you're in London, watching the sunrise from Parliament Hill will give you great views of the capital.



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Antarctica is losing billions of tons of ice each year, sharply boosting sea levels

Antarctica is losing billions of tons of ice each year, sharply boosting sea levelsEarth-orbiting satellites are watching Antarctica thaw.  Eighty scientists from over 40 earth sciences agencies, including NASA and the European Space Agency, used satellite data from between 1992 to 2017 to find that Antarctica has lost three trillion tons of ice to the oceans over this 25-year period. Their research, published Wednesday in the journal
Nature, confirms a troubling trend, as much of the world's fresh water is frozen away in Antarctica. It's accelerating melt will likely play a primary role in swelling Earth's oceans two or three feet higher this century, or perhaps as much as six feet. SEE ALSO: Arctic sea ice is loaded with plastic litter from cigarettes and paint The most vulnerable masses of ice are in West Antartica, where NASA has already witnessed an accelerating melt. "They're melting like gangbusters," Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in an April interview. "These are massive rivers of ice that are dumping just huge amounts of ice into the oceans." Image: imbie/Planetary VisionsPerhaps most worrying, said Willis, is that this melting is unprecedented. Scientists are watching this thawing for the first time. They can see the melt is already accelerating — and it's unknown what's exactly to come. "We have long suspected that changes in Earth’s climate will affect the polar ice sheets," Andrew Shepherd, a climate scientist and one of the study's lead authors, said in a statement.   "Thanks to the satellites our space agencies have launched, we can now track their ice losses and global sea level contribution with confidence," said Shepherd. "According to our analysis, there has been a steep increase in ice losses from Antarctica during the past decade, and the continent is causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years."  Over this 25-year period, scientists measured around 7 and a half millimeters of sea level rise from the ice-clad continent. This might not seem like a lot, Robin Bell, a marine geologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said over email. But, the more recent rapid loses in Antarctic ice "indicates Antarctica can change faster than we thought," said Bell. In fact, 40 percent of the total rise, or about 3 millimeters, came in the last 5 years. That's when things really started to change. Until 2012, the study's researchers found that Antarctica had been shedding 84 billion tons of ice into the sea each year, incrementally boosting sea levels by around 0.2 millimeters annually.  But beginning in 2012, Antarctica began to lose nearly 240 billion tons per year, largely from two giant West Antarctic glaciers, Pine Island and Thwaites.   The West Antarctic ice is particularly vulnerable because these massive ice sheets sit over the ocean, and even slightly warmer ocean waters can eat away at them from the bottom.  The locations of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, which alone have enough ice to raise sea levels by 4 feet, says NASA.Image: Nasa"The largest mass loss is observed where relatively warm ocean waters are melting floating ice shelves from below," Steve Rintoul, a study coauthor and physical oceanographer from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center, in Australia, said in a statement.  These masses of ice, which sit on the edge of the continent, act as a plug, holding the continent's thick sheets of heavy ice back.  "As the ice shelves thin and weaken, they provide less resistance to ice flow from the continent to the sea," explained Rintoul. "This increases the rate of mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet and therefore the rate of sea level rise." This leads to a foreboding future. Once these melting ice sheets on the coast go, nothing is left to hold West Antartica's ice back. And as the authors note, "The ice sheets of Antarctica hold enough water to raise global sea level by 58 meters." Certainly, no one is suggesting this will all dump into ocean — not nearly. But only an insignificant amount needs to melt into the sea for coastal dwellers, where billions reside and many more are expected to live, to be impacted by rising seas, flooding, and surges of stormwater. Around 40 percent of Americans, for example, live directly on the shoreline.  To better grasp exactly how much ice is lost each year — and more critically, how fast these losses are accelerating — space agencies will continue to peer onto the thawing continent. And down on Earth, scientists will even depend on seals, fitted with data-collecting devices, to dive under this melting ice.  WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?



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Florida Stopped Background Checks On Concealed Weapon Permits For A Year: Report

Florida Stopped Background Checks On Concealed Weapon Permits For A Year: ReportFor over a year, Florida allowed citizens to obtain concealed weapon permits



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It's the Most Royal Day of the Year! All About Trooping the Colour — and Meghan Markle's Debut

It's the Most Royal Day of the Year! All About Trooping the Colour — and Meghan Markle's DebutNow that Meghan Markle is an official royal, she’s taking part in one of the royal family’s signature events: Trooping the Colour.



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Carrie Underwood Kisses Husband Mike Fisher After Winning CMT Award for Female Video of the Year

Carrie Underwood Kisses Husband Mike Fisher After Winning CMT Award for Female Video of the YearPLUS: Blake Shelton takes home top honors after winning Video of the Year.



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More young people plan to vote this year. But their key issues may surprise you.

More young people plan to vote this year. But their key issues may surprise you.Young people sharply increased their level of political engagement after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., political scientists say. But will the passion remain for the upcoming elections?



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After pair of 1-in-1000 year floods, a town seeks safeguards

After pair of 1-in-1000 year floods, a town seeks safeguardsELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) — The deadly flash flood that devastated a Maryland town's historic center in July 2016 was dubbed a 1-in-1000 year event. Less than two years later, an even more treacherous flood ravaged the town, gutting shops and killing a visitor.



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STDs Reached a Record High in California Last Year, According to State Health Authorities

STDs Reached a Record High in California Last Year, According to State Health AuthoritiesHealth professionals blame budget shortfall and other factors for the spike



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There's Virtually No Way Trump Could Win The Nobel Prize This Year For North Korea

There's Virtually No Way Trump Could Win The Nobel Prize This Year For North KoreaThree months ago, President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union



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