When is Summer 2024? Here's when summer starts and ends - astronomically and meteorologically

We're looking forward to summer after a long cold winter and a damp spring.We're looking forward to summer after a long cold winter and a damp spring.
We're looking forward to summer after a long cold winter and a damp spring. | Canva/Getty Images
It seems like a simple query, but there is more than one answer to the question of when summer officially starts.

A long dark winter has been followed by a chilly and wet spring - with 11 named storms hitting the UK in the last few months compared to the expected annual average of five.

So it’s no wonder so many of us are looking forward to summer and its warmer, longer days.

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But when does the sunny (hopefully) season actually start? Here’s what you need to know.

When is astronomical summer?

When it comes to astronomical summer we are talking about the a period defined by the Earth's axis and orbit around the Sun. The seasons occur due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt the Earth's rotational axis has in relation to its orbit around the Sun. Summer starts on the summer solstice, which is also the longest day of the year when the sun is at its highest position in the sky. The date of solstices are not fixed, due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun.

This year the summer solstice is on Thursday, June 20 - a day earlier than last year when it was on Wednesday, June 21.

Summer ends on the autumnal equinox, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south. Again this is not a fixed date and varies from year to year.

In 2024 the autumnal equinox, and the end of summer, is on Sunday, September 22.

When is meteorological summer?

More straightforward is meteorological summer which always starts on June 1 and August 31.

The meteorological seasons simply consist of splitting the year into four equal seasons of three months each - making it easy to observing and forecast weather consitions in a consistent way.

Using this system spring is March, April and May; summer is June, July and August; autumn is September, October and November; and winter is December, January and February.

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