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It came up in conversation today that we were nearly at 21st June, and the days would shortly be getting, um, shorter.

We were trying to think of the the term that means "When the sun is at the highest point it can attain in the sky during the year", as opposed to during the day, (which is the solar noon). We have terms like Perigee and Apogee, it seems (to me) that there should be a name for this as well.

Is there?

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  • $\begingroup$ I've always thought of that as the "solstice position" but it'll be interesting to see if someone can find a better name. (+1) $\endgroup$ – Andy Jun 7 '16 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ The closest I can come up with is solar noon on the summer solstice, I don't think there's a direct analogy to perigee and apogee. (+1) $\endgroup$ – Dean Jun 7 '16 at 16:26
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I think this is an indirect answer, but the name for this event is solstice. In the strictest definition, the solstice is

either of the two times in the year, the summer solstice and the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon, marked by the longest and shortest days.

By definition, the solstice is the exact point in time when the Earth's axial tilt is pointed as close to (or as far from) the Sun as possible and by extension, the Sun is at its highest (or lowest) point in the sky during the year. If you're in the northern hemisphere, this point is the summer solstice, whereas it is the winter solstice for the southern hemisphere.

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  • $\begingroup$ The exact time of the solstice is when the sun reaches the tropic of cancer, the furthest north it can go. The moment when this happens won't normally be at local solar noon. Also, Dec 21 is the Summer solstice in the southern hemisphere! $\endgroup$ – James K Jun 7 '16 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesKilfiger Yes, you are correct. This was the closest term I could think of to their query. But it is the correct term for some place on the planet at least. $\endgroup$ – zephyr Jun 7 '16 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I'd always thought of the solstices in the same way as equinoxes, in that they describe the length of the day / night i.e. the result of the Sun / Earth alignment rather than being the name of the actual astronomical event itself. I stand corrected. $\endgroup$ – SiHa Jun 8 '16 at 6:55

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