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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

The First Day of Summer

June 20, 2012 —
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Today is the summer solstice—when the Sun is at its more northern point—which marks the first day of summer, as well as the longest day in 2012. It’s a great day to go outside and take advantage of all the extra sunlight, and also a good time to take a look at all of the computations Wolfram|Alpha can do revolving around the Sun.

Here in Champaign, Illinois, the sun rose at 5:25am this morning, with sunset happening at 8:27pm. This equals just over 15 hours of sunlight:

Sunrise to Sunset

It’s common knowledge that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but the path it takes on that journey is different each time. For our location, the Sun’s path looks something like this today, with the default perspective of looking toward the southern horizon:

Sun path

Wolfram|Alpha can also calculate the Sun path of a specific date, whether it’s the day you were born or a historical event. This is a great opportunity to show some of the neat ways Wolfram|Alpha can understand nested queries:

Sun path in the capital of Nebraska on Star Wars release date

Spending more time outside admiring the Sun’s path does raise the risk of sunburns, however, but luckily Wolfram|Alpha can help you there, too! Entering “time to sunburn” into Wolfram|Alpha brings up an input box that allows you to calculate how long your skin can be exposed to the Sun without burning based on your skin type, location, time, the level of Sun protection factor (SPF) you might be using, and how long you stay in the Sun.

time to sunburn

We also have an app for that!

Wolfram|Alpha can also do calculations on aspects of the Sun that aren’t as visible with the human eye, such as solar flares. The results page below shows the x-ray flux of a particularly intense solar flare:

Solar flares 3am June 7, 2011 to 3pm June 7, 2011

So now that you know all of this information about the Sun, what are you planning on doing with all the extra sunlight today?

1 Comment

Celebrating my birthday! My birthday coincides with the summer solstice. Coincidentally, my grandfather’s birthday coincides with the winter solstice.

Posted by David June 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm