In the U.S.A., the Summer solstice is the first day of Summer. Elsewhere, the solstice is actually regarded by some as being the middle of Summer (or Winter). A Midsummer Night's Dream is supposed to occur on the Summer solstice - and that's midSummer.

The moment when Earth is closest to the sun is called perihelion. It occurs a few days after Winter solstice (in the Northern hemisphere). When the Earth is farthest from the sun is aphelion, and it's a few days after (Northern hemisphere) Summer solstice. The solstices are not the days when the Earth is nearest or farthest from the sun, they are the days where the poles most closely point towards the sun (or, when the poles are farthest from the terminator; or, when the celestial equator is farthest from the sun). To think they are the same event is a fairly common misconception, because the solstices are typically the warmest and coldest days of the year. However, the angle of the land to the sun, and the number of hours the sun shines, have a much larger effect on the temperature than the relatively small variation in distance caused by the slight eccentricity of Earth's orbit.

As is noted in the Summer solstice node, the sun is at zenith at some point on the Tropic of Cancer. All points between the Equator and the Arctic circle experience the longest day. All points between the Equator and the Antarctic circle experience the shortest day. (Within the Arctic and Antarctic circles, days get quite unusual, so I'll leave that for another writeup.)

As is noted in the Winter solstice node, the sun is at zenith at some point on the Tropic of Capricorn. All points between the Equator and the Arctic circle experience the shortest day, and all points between the Equator and the Antarctic circle experience the longest day.

Daytime and nighttime on the Equator are both 12 hours long, all year.

It is interesting to note that, for points between the Tropics and the poles, the Summer solstice is the same day the sun most closely approaches zenith -- however, for latitudes between the Tropics, the sun reaches zenith twice in a year, and these moments do not correspond with the solstices. In fact, the sun hits zenith at the Equator on the equinoxes, about halfway between the solstices.

Apart from the more popular pagan belief systems, the Solstices -- especially the winter -- are celebrated in many other cultures. In China, the Winter Solstice is known as Dong Zhi and celebrated with Ju Dong. The Roman tradition of Saturnalia continues today, as does that of the Yule.

Solstice is a Nintendo game developed by Imagesoft and released on July 20, 1990. It features the wizard Shadax, the princess Eleanor, and the evil wizard Morbius.

When the game begins, Morbius is abducting Eleanor, and Shadax goes to rescue her, only to be transported to Morbius' castle by the dark wizard himself. This is where the puzzle/adventure game begins. You control Shadax in a three-dimensional world via a third-preson perspective through Morbius' castle, in search of Eleanor.

The experimental venture into a 3D enviornment on the NES makes for frustrating gameplay at times. In a puzzle genre such as this one, precision movement of one's character and other puzzle objects can be imperative to further (if any) progression in the game. In this early 3D enviornment, however, the way Shadax will respond to your control is often different than what is intended.

Another downside to this game is the music track. The game takes an estimated 20 hours to complete, yet only has one song. This song, although solitary, was very fitting to the feel of the game, and I don't remember ever tiring of it.

Instead of fighting enemies, or even leading them into traps, the majority of your dealings with them is merely evasion. You can accomplish this using the only four items in the game: potions. Purple potions make you invincible to everything but spikes on one screen. (The game is measured in 'screens,' which can be understood as different rooms in Morbius' castle.) Pink potions will destroy all enemies on one screen. A yellow potion will freeze all enemies, but leave them with the ability to harm you at touch. A green potion manifests moveable blocks which aid in scaling smaller edifices and large staircases.

Despite some flaws, Solstice will remain in my mind as one of the great puzzle/adventure games of its time.

Sol"stice (?), n.[L. solstitium; sol the sun + sistere to cause to stand, akin to stare to stand: cf. F. solstice. See Solar, a., Stand, v. i.]


A stopping or standing still of the sun.


Sir T. Browne.

2. Astron.

(a) The point in the ecliptic at which the sun is farthest from the equator, north or south, namely, the first point of the sign Cancer and the first point of the sign Capricorn, the former being the summer solstice, latter the winter solstice, in northern latitudes; -- so called because the sun then apparently stands still in its northward or southward motion.

(b) The time of the sun's passing the solstices, or solstitial points, namely, about June 21 and December 21. See Illust. in Appendix.


© Webster 1913.

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