Learn about the longest day of the year, plus viewing tips.


This month we'll talk about the sun and the longest day of the year.

I'm Jane Houston Jones at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

If the sun was a basketball, the Earth would be like a tiny little dot on the surface of that basketball. 

And, in comparison, Jupiter, which is the biggest of our planets, would be about the size of a quarter.

As the Earth orbits the sun, which takes 365 days, the Earth is spinning on its axis, which is tilted.

In the summertime the sun is pointing towards the North Pole, and that means our days are warmer and our days are longer.

The Summer Solstice is the longest day in the year.

And it's also the day when the sun is highest in the sky.

In the wintertime the sun is pointing at the South Pole, where we'll have less sun, but the Southern Hemisphere will have their summertime. 

Never look directly at the sun, or through binoculars or a telescope, or you'll damage your eyes.

We have a lot of NASA missions that are studying the sun.

And by doing that we can learn about all stars, because the sun is a star.

After the sun sets, Mars and Saturn are still visible in the western sky.

And they're getting closer and closer together, if you've been watching them over the last few months.

You don't need a telescope to see these two planets.

They look like colorful stars.

Saturn looks yellowish and Mars looks kind of orangish.

But through a telescope, you'll see some features on Saturn.

You'll see a little bit of the ring structure.

Mars is so far away from us, and it's so tiny, that it just looks like a little squashed ball.

That's all for this month.

I'm Jane Houston Jones.

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