June 21 marked the longest day of the year, summer solstice being one of the most celebrated holidays in Alaska. Seasons dominate our lifestyles in this northern state, so summer and winter solstices wholly affect all who live here. In Alaska we live in accordance to the endless light of summer and the dreary darkness of winter.
On June 21, planet earth’s Northern Hemisphere is tilted directly toward the sun. On this date there are 24 hours of daylight north of the Arctic Circle, located at 66.5 degrees north of the equator. On the same day the Southern Hemisphere experiences its shortest day, when everyone located south of the Antarctic Circle experiences 24 hours of darkness. On our continuously changing planet, what goes around comes around.
Without the 23.5-degree tilt of the earth, all days would be equal in length and there would be no changing seasons. Instead the sun would always hover directly above the equator, which divides the earth’s two hemispheres. Due to our planet’s tilt, we see great variation in climate and an evolution through the seasons each year.
In addition to reaching our peak in sunlight, much of Alaska has been experiencing record high temperatures
. For weeks on end, parts of Alaska that rarely experience T-shirt and shorts weather have left people sweating. On June 24, Southeast Alaska was predicted to break daily heat records across the region. Experts question whether this heat wave is connected to global warming of the planet. Most climate change predictions have suggested an average decrease in temperature of 2.4 degrees in Alaska in the last decade, according to Alaska Dispatch
. Climate change was thought be creating a colder and wetter Alaska, but things may be shifting in the far north. It is hard to predict the future of Alaska’s climate.
June 23 marked the date in which the moon reached its full phase while also being at its nearest to earth point in its orbit. This created a supermoon
, so named because of its large size and bright illumination. Across the planet people witnessed this stunning sphere of light in the sky.
In Alaska, days are now getting shorter, temperatures have been getting warmer, and a stunning supermoon brightened the sky. Planetary alignment, the earth’s tilt, rotation and revolution, as well as other physical forces, continue to dictate life across the planet. Forces beyond human control continue to dominate the Earth and shape all life that flourishes here.