(NEXSTAR) – Bust out the sunscreen – solar summer is upon us.
Not to be confused with summer solstice, solar summer starts earlier. In the Northern Hemisphere, it lasts for a three-month period in which this half of the Earth is tilted the most toward the sun.
In these three months, because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, we see the most sunshine, Accuweather explains, and days are longer.
This year, solar summer started on Friday, May 5, according to meteorologist Sean Sublette.
Long days and sunny skies are usually good news, but there is a dark side to solar summer (so to speak). In an article for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sublette explained this time of year is when people are most likely to get sunburns because the sun’s rays have a shorter distance to travel before they reach us.
Solar summer lasts through August 4, 2023.
If you missed the chance to celebrate the start of solar summer, there are two other official starts to summer that are yet to come.
The one you’re likely most familiar with is the start of “astronomical summer,” which coincides with the summer solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere reaches its peak tilt toward the sun. This year, astronomical summer starts on June 21 and ends on Sept. 23.
But there is also a separately defined summer called “meteorological summer.” Because the length of the astronomical seasons can vary by a few days, meteorologists decided to simplify things and define their seasons with start and end dates that don’t change year-to-year.
No matter the year, meteorological summer starts on June 1 and ends on August 31.