Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and shortest night. It is the time of year in which earth’s north pole is at its maximum tilt towards the sun, traveling it’s longest path across the sky. This day marks the official start of the summer season.
Solstices are a big deal up here in Alaska. We get around 19 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset on summer solstice. It is pretty modest compared to what Barrow (Utqiagvik), AK gets (approximately 79 days straight with no sunset). However, I’ll take it. And honestly, even after the official time for sunset it does not become as dark as what most people would consider “night”. It’s more like a twilight.
Usually during summer solstice we would attend the Anchorage Summer Solstice Festival. I haven’t heard one thing about it this year. So I assume it isn’t happening due to COVID. I have been meaning to do more at home in regards to solstice. So now I have a perfect excuse!
Of all the Alaskan themed children’s books we have read, our summer solstice book is the one I enjoy most. Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun by Deb Vanasse is my favorite! So of course we read it to celebrate solstice!
Another way we celebrated solstice this year was to decorate and create a tent! We took a plain white sheet and painted it with “sun” colors! After it dried we turned it into a tent! Unfortunately once the tent was dry, it was raining. That didn’t stop my son from enjoying it! He spent over two hours playing in his tent while it rained on and off outside!
The final thing we did was to make sun prints! I had been wanting to do this for awhile! I purchased Nature Print Paper from Amazon. Then we went on a little nature walk and collected anything we thought was cool or pretty. After that we set out our items on the Nature Print Paper and made our prints! I’m so excited with how they turned out!
As a Christian family you may wonder why we recognize solstice. Honestly, we didn’t before we lived in Alaska. In southern Illinois, solstice doesn’t mean a whole lot. However, when you have gone from around 5 hours of twilight-ish sunlight at winter solstice to 19+ hours of bright sunlight by the end of June like we do in Anchorage, you may want to celebrate as well. In addition, the way I see it is God created the seasons and the seasonal shifts. Many of our major Christian holidays coincide with these seasonal shifts. They greatly affect our lives, even if we aren’t truly aware of them. There is no reason not to recognize these wonderful natural marvels that God has created. I choose to teach science through the perspective that all science part God’s great plan. This encompasses many things, including the solstices. I can’t help but agree with the quote from the scientist John Bloom that states,
“…the more we study and understand the creation through science, the more clearly we see that it must be the handiwork of God.”
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