The Montauk Point Lighthouse shortly after sunrise Monday morning on...

The Montauk Point Lighthouse shortly after sunrise Monday morning on the first day of summer. (June 21, 2010) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

AT precisely 7:28 a.m. Monday, the moment of the summer solstice, Pauline Mize popped the cork on a bottle of Champagne at Montauk Point - part of a hastily constructed ceremony she organized with her daughter and friends to celebrate the start of summer.

Across Long Island and the New York metro area, residents marked the longest day of the year which, at Montauk Point, meant more than 15 hours of sunlight.

"So often we are running through life," Mize said, as she burned incense and took in the cool morning sea breeze. "This gives us time to take in what's around us."

For Steven Licardi, 21, of West Islip, and Samantha Monteleone, 21, of Islip, it was also their third anniversary as a couple. They watched the sun rise over the Block Island Sound from their car.

"I like to write, and Samantha is a musician, so we both appreciate the beauty of this," Licardi said of the rising, deep orange sun. "This is a great start to a perfect day."

In Long Island City, more than 200 people that included mostly young families, finished the day in Socrates Sculpture Park with crafts, dance and self-proclaimed city shaman Mama Donna leading the group in a final solstice ritual as the sun set into the Manhattan skyline.

For nine years the community has held a Summer Solstice Celebration focused around art and music.

"I like doing this with my kids," said Gretchen Fancher of Astoria, having a picnic with her children, 11 and 5. She has been coming for seven years and can only recall missing one year.

"We can talk about the solstice with our kids," Fancher said. "City kids don't have a strong sense of nature. This helps them remember."

For many Long Islanders it was indeed the perfect day, one where they were able to do what they love to do in the summer. They played miniature golf and real golf, lunched outside with friends, or simply took a brisk morning walk.

On the docks in Freeport, Don Morgese of Merrick was preparing to spend the day as he spends most of the summer, on a charter boat, catching fish.

"After fishing, I'm going home and taking a nap; it's a long day," he said. "Fishing is the best part of Long Island, as far as I'm concerned."

Hours earlier, on the rocks beside the iconic Montauk lighthouse, Anast Terezakis, 44, of Bethel, Conn., likely would have agreed with Morgese's sentiment. Terezakis took the day off from his contracting business to go surf fishing.

Born in Commack, he said he remembers fishing with his father and older brother, and this was his first trip back this season.

"When I go fishing, I come here," he said at about 6:30 a.m. as he looked for his fishing spot.

As he climbed down to "the altar," named by him as much for its flat shape as for its good luck, he said he was hoping it would bring him good fortune again.

"I saw the sun rise from my camper in Shagwong Point," he said, "and I knew it would be a good day."

A quarter mile away on the rocky beach, Mize, of Yaphank, raised her glass in a toast to the new season and to her friends.

"The idea came to us in the spur of the moment," she said. "We drove here hoping to see the sun rise and start off the season the right way."

Her daughter Alyssa, 16, poked fun at her, saying that it also showed how crazy some people are, squeezing into a small sedan at 3:30 a.m. to watch the sun come up. They all laughed. "This was everything we hoped it would be and more," she said as she prepared to cast a message in a bottle into the sea. "We'll be back in the fall."

With Matthew Coleman

On LI, summer solstice arrives at different times

Monday morning, the start of summer or the summer solstice, sunrise at Montauk Point, Long Island's easternmost location, came at 5:18 a.m. Sunset was expected at 8:26 p.m.

At Great Neck, sunrise was 5:24 a.m.; sunset was expected at 8:30 p.m.

And at centrally located Smithtown, sunrise was 5:21 a.m.; sunset was expected at 8:28 p.m.

The times are different because of location, specifically longitudinal coordinates, said Geoff Chester, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. The observatory is the "definitive source" for published sunrise and sunset times, used by the National Weather Service and most weather bureaus, Chester said.

When calculating sunrise and sunset, he said, one degree of longitude is equivalent to about four minutes of time.

The farther east on the map for a location, the earlier for sunrise and sunset. And where the summer solstice is concerned, the farther north, Chester said, the longer the day.

"Because the sun is not a pinpoint source of light and the earth is not a cueball with no atmosphere," calculating sunrise and sunset times can be complicated, Chester said. Accuracy is plus or minus 30 seconds.

(By the way, Montauk Point's coordinates are longitude 71.52 W, latitude 41.40 N; Great Neck is 73.4 W, 40.48 N.)

Based on the coordinates, the longest longest day in the continental United States Monday likely was in Houlton, Maine (67.84 W, 46.12 N), where sunrise was 4:40 a.m. and sunset is scheduled for 8:26 p.m., 15 hours 46 minutes. The shortest longest day was likely at Key West, Fla.(81.8 W, 24.6 N) - sunrise at 6:39 a.m. and sunset scheduled for 8:19 p.m., 13 hours, 40 minutes.

Here are sunrise and sunset times for other Long Island locations Tuesday, technically the day with the most daylight this year, according to the Navy Oceanography Portal website:

Hempstead: 5:23 a.m. 8:29 p.m.

Long Beach: 5:24 a.m. 8:29 p.m.

Long Island City: 5:25 a.m 8:31 p.m.

Kings Point: 5:24 a.m. 8:30 p.m.

Islip: 5:22 a.m. 8:28 p.m.

East Meadow: 5:23 a.m. 8:29 p.m.

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