Summer solstice

by Tanya
Publish date
21 December 2011
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I’ve always loved summer – nothing beats the summer holidays, trips to the beach, warm sunshine and lazy summer evenings. But this year it means even more to me, because right now we are putting the finishing touches on a new planetarium show that opens on 26 December.

The summer solstice (22 December) is that day of the year when the Sun's path reaches its highest and longest across the sky. Our new show Tilt is a whirlwind adventure that describes how the seasons work.

summer solstice from Tilt In the new show Tilt, Kelvin (the robot) shows Annie and Max the long path of the Sun on the summer solstice.
Image: Melbourne Planetarium
Source: Museum Victoria

The changing seasons are so important to the way we live our lives. The summer holidays, the changing colours of autumn, the cosiness of winter and the blossoming of spring. And all this happens because our Earth spins on a tilted axis.

Without this tilt our days, year-in and year-out, would be the same. The Sun would always rise due east and set due west. The Sun’s path through the sky would be constant, reaching the same height every day. There’d also be 12 hours of daylight followed by 12 hours of night.

The tilt is what shakes this all up. Most importantly, the tilt varies the direction at which sunlight hits the Earth. Our warm days of summer occur when sunlight beams down most directly because our part of the world is tilted towards the Sun.

So enjoy the summer solstsice and the remarkable difference a little tilt on the world can make.


Session Times for Tilt

The Sun and the seasons

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.