Chicago Weather

The 2024 summer solstice will be historic. Here's why and what to expect

This year's event will actually be the earliest in more than 200 years

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Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.

The 2024 summer solstice is nearly here, and this year's event will actually be the earliest in more than 200 years.

What will that mean and why is this year's so early?

The historic moment will also be followed by another big sight in the sky.

Here's what to expect:

When is the summer solstice?

The summer solstice takes place at approximately 3:50 p.m. CT on June 20 in Chicago, according to

At that time, the Chicago area will see its longest day of the year, with approximately 15 hours, 13 minutes and 41 seconds of daylight -- the most we'll see on a single day this year, according to

What is the summer solstice and is it the first day of summer?

The summer solstice is the time when the sun reaches its highest and northernmost points in the sky, according to the Farmer's Almanac, marking the first day of astronomical summer.

It is also known as the day with the longest period of sunlight, or the longest day of the year - for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

While the solstice does not take place at the same time each year, it typically falls anytime between June 20-22.

"Our solstices are caused by the slight tilt in Earth’s axis in relation to the plane of its orbit," a blog from the Adler Planetarium said. "This tilt is about 23.5 degrees off-vertical. As a result, when Earth circles the Sun each year, a different half of the globe is leaning slightly towards or away from the Sun."

As the summer solstice approaches, the amount of daylight increases each day while the nights get shorter. After the summer solstice, the amount of daylight gradually diminishes each day, until the winter solstice—which falls on December 21 this year.

"The summer solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere when the northern half of the globe has its closest tilt towards the Sun of the year," the Adler said. "Conversely, it’s also when the southern hemisphere experiences the winter solstice, as the southern half of the globe is at its furthest tilt away from the Sun."

Why is this year's solstice so early?

According to Accuweather, this year's solstice will be the earliest in 228 years, with the last time the solstice taking place this early being on June 20, 1796.

"The exact day and time of the solstice varies slightly from year to year," the publication reported.

Weather Network called the shift for 2024 "something exceptional," noting that the early solstice could also be tied to it being a leap year.

"Our calendar still remains slightly out of sync with the solar year. As a result, each leap year, the vernal equinox occurs around 40-50 minutes earlier than the previous leap year vernal equinox," the network reported.

Also of note is the fact that the spring equinox fell on March 19, marking only the second time in more than a century it has fallen on that day and becoming the earliest spring equinox in 128 years.

"Even taking into consideration that there was no daylight saving time back then, 2024's summer solstice is still earlier," Weather Network reported.

And it appears fall and winter will be similar, with the fall equinox being the earliest since 1797 and the winter solstice becoming the earliest since 1798.

Going forward, each leap year after 2024 will also see equinoxes and solstices "even earlier," Weather Network said.

Why is it called a solstice?

According to Adler, the word solstice "means that the arc of the Sun—or Sol—stops in the sky."

The word has a Latin origin, coming from solstitium - sol, which means sun, and stitium, which means "still or stopped," the Almanac reports.

Sunrise and sunsets during the summer solstice

While the solstice marks the day with the most sunlight, it does not mark the date of the earliest sunrise or latest sunset.

According to, the latest sunsets of the year will occur in mid-to-late June, with the sun going down at approximately 8:30 p.m. The city will see over 15 hours of daylight through most of the month, though that number will start to decrease after the summer solstice on June 20.

Fortunately the area will continue to see sunsets after 8 p.m. through Aug. 8, according to the website.

Best place to catch the summer solstice sunrise

For those thinking about seeing the sunrise that day but aren't sure where exactly to go, we have some good news: you don't have to travel far at all.

Mixbook, a photobook company based in California, conducted a survey of 3,000 respondents to identify the 150 best places in the U.S. to witness the sunrise on June 20. One popular spot in Chicago made the top 50.

Landing at No. 33 on the list is one of the city's most popular beaches, the famed North Avenue Beach along DuSable Lake Shore Drive in Lincoln Park.

According to its entry on the rankings page, North Avenue Beach "offers a picturesque view of the sunrise over Lake Michigan" and "the juxtaposition of the natural beauty and the urban skyline is striking."

For anyone wondering about the best locations to see the sunrise nationwide, the top 10 are below:

  1. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  2. Arches National Park, Utah
  3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  4. Stone Mountain Park, Georgia
  5. Key West, Florida
  6. Everglades National Park, Florida
  7. Adirondack Mountains, New York
  8. Sedona, Arizona
  9. Maroon Bells, Colorado
  10. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Strawberry moon to follow summer solstice

Immediately following the summer solstice is the June full moon, which is also known as the "strawberry moon." And it will mark another historic sight.

The full moon will reach peak illumination at 8:08 p.m. CT, according to the Farmer's Almanac.

"Since the 2024 June full Moon happens on the solstice, the very day the Sun is absolutely at its highest of the year, this month’s full Moon on the 21st is the very lowest full Moon, indeed, the lowest we’ve seen in years," the Almanac reported. "Just look at it! Because the Moon is so low, it will appear bigger than ever. This is called the 'Moon Illusion.'"

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