Thousands mark summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge

Thousands of people have greeted the sun with cheers as it rose over Stonehenge for summer solstice.

Those who observed the spectacle at the neolithic Wiltshire monument encountered a chilly morning accompanied by clear skies as the sun glinted over the horizon at 4.52am.

People watch the sun rise at the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire
People watch the sun rise at the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire

Kate Logan, English Heritage’s director of Stonehenge, said it was “one of the highlights of the year” at the popular site.

“There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere throughout, the sun shone and the dawn was greeted with loud cheers.”

Stonehenge is a monument built on the alignment of the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset.

And the sun is up! Happy Solstice from @EH_Stonehenge.

— English Heritage (@EnglishHeritage) June 21, 2019

On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.

It is believed that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

English Heritage used the occasion to launch its new live feed of of the sky above the ancient monument, which globally shares the journey of the stars and the moon from within the stone circle.

Summer Solstice 2019
Summer Solstice 2019

Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock said she hoped the feed inspires “people all over the world to go outside, and look up”.

Summer solstice takes place as one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, ensuring the longest period of daylight for year.