DENVER - Although we've already got a taste of summer-like weather, the official start of the season has arrived. Here are 9 summer fun facts to ponder when you slather on that sunscreen to have some fun in the sun.
1. The first day of summer is called the summer solstice. The term solstice is Latin for sun stand still. The sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays beam on the Earth at a more direct angle, causing the hotter temperatures we associate with summer.
2. While we try to beat the heat in the northern hemisphere, it's winter in the southern hemisphere. It's also the longest day of sunlight for places in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day for cities south of the equator.
3. You'll hear the term "The Dog Days of summer" very often, but the real "dog days" refers to the weeks between July 3 and August 11. They are named after the Dog Star (Sirius) in the constellation of Canis Major.
4. Here's a fun experiment to try if you want to find out what the temperature is and don't have a thermometer. The frequency of a cricket's chirps fluctuates with the temperature, so if you count a cricket's chirps for 15 seconds and add 37, you will have the approximate outdoor temperature (in Fahrenheit).
5. France's Eiffel Tower grows by more than six inches in summer due to the expansion of the iron on hot days.
6. The higher summer temperatures make July the most popular month for ice cream. In July, Americans celebrate National Ice Cream Month. U.S. citizens consume about 5.5 gallons per year (on average.)
7. Watermelon is the summer's favorite vegetable. Yes, vegetable and not a fruit. It is part of the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash family. Fruit or veggie, this juicy favorite is 92 percent water and the average American eats 15 pounds of watermelon a year.
8. Seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for pools in the summer time. Any temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot and any temperature under 70 Fahrenheit degrees is too cold.
9. The last day of summer is September 20. The first day of autumn begins on September 21. So enjoy the summer solstice while it lasts!
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