The campus of Hofstra University in Uniondale, New York

The campus of Hofstra University in Uniondale, New York Credit: /Kendall Rodriguez

The first day of summer on Long Island will take place Thursday, with more than 15 hours of sunlight — the most of any day this year — in the annual astronomical event known as the summer solstice.

Sunrise on Long Island is expected at 5:21 a.m., with sunset at 8:27 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The official solstice is planned for 4:51 p.m. The earth will be at its maximum tilt toward the sun, which will appear at its highest elevation in the sky. 

Marking the event will be a small group from Hofstra University, led by Professor Donald Lubowich. The group will travel to Washington, D.C., Thursday in preparation for its annual Solstice Saturday program and Hofstra’s Astronomy Festival on the National Mall. The program is designed to offer solar and nighttime telescope observations while promoting astronomy and science.

“The goal is to bring astronomy to the public and people coming to the National Mall,” Lubowich said. "Its significance is it’s the longest day [of sunlight] of the year. Many cultures have celebrated it and it brings hands-on activities for kids of all ages and interest in careers in science.”

The summer solstice has been a key date in traditions for Native American tribes and ancient cultures, including ancient Greece and the ruins at Stonehenge, Lubowich said.

He said he started the event with the Smithsonian Institution about 14 years ago, using a grant from NASA to co-sponsor an event of music and astronomy under the stars.

On Saturday, Lubowich and other local amateur astronomers will set up dozens of telescopes, puzzles and games on the National Mall.

Lubowich said although Thursday will mark the longest daylight opportunity of the year, the earliest sunrise occurred June 14 and the latest sunset will be June 28.

And though the solstice marks the beginning of astrological summer, it’s not always great for star gazing, said Jason Cousins,  president of Amateur Observers' Society New York. He said the shorter viewing window, usually well after 9 p.m., is limited to four to five hours while the sun starts rising with dawn breaking before 5 a.m.

“It marks when half the year is gone and the world is working the way it should,” Cousins said. “For astronomy, it’s the worst time of the year. It gives us a very narrow window of viewing times.

Other events on Long Island include a summer solstice celebration at Sands Point Preserve, which will include a qigong meditation session and painting instruction of the sunset.

“Sands Point is a beautiful place to be outdoors in different ecosystems and to celebrate the preserve,” said Jeremiah Bosgang, the preserve’s executive director.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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