Wet start to Summer Solstice celebrations


Heavy rain and grey skies have marred the astronomical beginning of summer.

Monday marks the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year and the celestial transition point between the seasons - but wet weather has plagued much of the UK.

Sharp showers fell across the South and Midlands on Monday morning, though the sun managed to break through further north.

The dull and wet start to the day was expected to largely clear in time for celebrations to mark the Summer Solstice.

Thousands of people will make their way to Stonehenge in Wiltshire to mark the occasion, which also coincides with a Strawberry Moon.

If the clouds give way, stargazers could also catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon on Monday night.

A Strawberry Moon - a full moon which marks the start of the strawberry season - has not coincided with the Summer Solstice for almost 50 years.

Simon Partridge, forecaster at the Met Office, said: "It's a very wet start but it's not unusual to get a weather front coming across the UK at this time of year.

"It will brighten up through this afternoon and this evening, which should give us a few clear spells which should give a chance to do some moon-gazing."

But he warned there is a "a good chance" of patchy cloud around Stonehenge despite 17 hours of daylight which may infringe on the view.

Temperatures will be 18C (64.4F) or 19C (66.2F) on Monday - normal for this time of year - with some "decent sunny spells", Mr Partridge added.

Meteorologists define the beginning of summer as June 1, while the astronomical calendar determines the seasons based on the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit of the Sun.