After what has felt like an endless winter, at last summer is on the horizon. Love it or loathe it, we are heading into those months defined by lighter evenings, BBQs, flip-flops, beaches and ice-creams. It’s that time of year when you can almost feel nature growing beneath your feet and see it bursting all around. One of my favourite things about the summer months is that it is much simpler to go out walking; there is no need to wrap up in layer after layer of outer clothes, no muddy boots to clean when you get home and no muddy dog to contend with (well, unless she has sniffed out a year-round swamp somewhere!). To help get you in the mood, here are seven sweltering facts about the summer season…
1 – Summer Beginnings
The meteorological summer begins on 1 June and ends on 31 August. The meteorological seasons are split into four periods each of three whole calendar months. They coincide with our Gregorian calendar making it easier for observing and forecasting to compare seasonal and monthly statistics. However, astronomical summer begins on 21 June. The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth's axis in its orbit around the sun.
2 – Dog Days are Hot Days
You may have heard people using the phrase 'dogs days of summer' when referring to sweltering summer days. Of course, dogs are well known for struggling in the heat (they do not sweat and so have to rely on panting to cool down), but the saying actually has more to do with stars than dogs. The Roman's dog days or 'dies caniculares' began towards the end of July when the star Sirius (known as the Dog Star) began to rise in the sky just before the sun. The star was so bright that the Romans believed it gave extra heat to the sun and was responsible for hot days in summer.
3 – Height of Summer
The Eiffel Tower grows in summer. On a hot day the iron from which it is constructed expands so much that the tower can rise by 17cm. This is also the right time to take your tower photos. The rules on the official tower website stipulate that you can publish a photograph of the Eiffel Tower illuminated by sunlight, but not one taken at night. The patterns and angles of the lighting are apparently deemed to be the intellectual property of the local utility responsible for lighting the tower.
4 – Weather Highs and Lows
More thunderstorms occur during the summer than at any other time of the year. The warmth of summer often provides the perfect conditions of rising air and moisture required for the creation of thunderstorms. They are most likely to occur in the south east of England.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in summer in the UK is -5.6 Celsius, recorded on 9 June 1955 in Dalwhinnie and again on 1 and 3 June 1962 in Santon Downham in Norfolk. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK was on 10 August 2003, when Faversham in Kent recorded a sweltering 38.5 Celsius.
5 – Temperature by Crickets
Next time you hear the sound of crickets chirping on a balmy summer evening, why not try this simple trick to find out the temperature. The frequency of a cricket's chirps is consistent with air temperature, so you simply need to count how many chirps there are over 25 seconds then divide by 3 and add 4 to tell you the temperature in Celsius. Give it a try!
6 – Midnight Match
Every year on the summer solstice, a unique baseball game is played at the Growden Memorial Park known as the Midnight Sun Game. Taking place in Fairbanks, Alaska, the sun is out for almost 24 hours on the solstice and so the game begins at 10.30pm and ends around 1.30am without using any artificial lighting.
7 – Milton Henge
Stone Henge is not the only construction built with the summer solstice in mind. Milton Keynes' central road is designed so that when the sun rises on the solstice, it shines straight down Midsummer Boulevard and reflects in the glass of the train station. What a beautiful touch!