The summer solstice Tuesday marks the official start of the summer season.
The solstice, which falls on June 20 or 21 each year, occurs when the Earth's North Pole is tilted the most toward the sun, and the sun is at its highest point.
Solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning "sol" (the sun) and "stit" (standing), according to the National Weather Service. The sun's position at noon actually changes very little in the days surrounding the solstice, hence the concept of the sun "standing still."
Because of daylight saving time, the sun will be at its highest point in Los Angeles at 12:55 p.m., rather than at noon. At that time, called "local noon," the sun will be located directly overhead on the line between east and west, said Laura Danly, curator of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
The exact "stopping" point of the sun will be at 10:16 a.m. Tuesday.
"That is when the earth's pole is pointed most toward the sun, that's the stationary point," Danly said. "Then the sun will turn around and move south again."
The sun also rises at its most northeastern point of the year during the summer solstice, Danly said. That is why the summer solstice receives the most hours of sunlight of any day of the year, as the sun will appear to travel in its longest path across the sky.
For , the solstice also means that the sunset will being making its way back south and out from behind Malibu's mountains.
Ancient peoples were acutely aware of the timing of solstices, and around the world, art and architecture reflect that consciousness. As nearby as Chaco Canyon Historical Park, the summer solstice causes a dagger of light to cut across the center of spirals carved on rocks by the ancient Chacoan tribe, Danly said.
The architect of the Getty Center, Richard Meier, wanted to continue that tradition of structural time clocks, said Ruth Cuadra, an application systems analyst in the information systems department at the Getty Research Institute.
When designing the Getty Research Institute in 1997, Meier built an oculus, a circular window, into the institute's library.
The oculus had a specific purpose. When the sun passed through at high noon on the summer solstice, a shadow was cast onto artwork on the bottom floor of the library.
Originally, that artwork was a mountain tip, aligned with the counterpoint. Several years later the artwork was replaced by a circular glass plate in the floor. The shadow can be seen in the center of the plate, Cuadra said.
When Cuadra learned about the purpose of the glass plate four and a half years ago, she was enraptured.
"I dragged people away from their desk [to see it]," Cuadra said with a laugh.
Getty Research Institute staffers will be having a private gathering Tuesday with hopes of seeing the display, Cuadra added.
Events will be taking place around the country and here in Venice to commemorate the start of summer. Not only did King Neptune Saturday, but there will also be a celebration .
Happy summer, Venice!