Google commissioned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to produce the latest in its series of Google doodles. The multicolored cartoon, titled The First Day of Summer, entwines flowery bursts around gaping mouthed heads characteristic of the Japanese anime style. The doodle represents the date of the summer solstice, much loved by druids, but the doodle’s title is somewhat misleading as solstice is the longest day in summer, rather than the first, although it may give new hope to those deluged in recent days and those heading to the Glastonbury festival this weekend.
Murakami known for his works for its appropriation of high art forms such as sculpture, which is then, molded with low art themes from pop culture to mass media. He has produced a variety of contemporary work from 30ft sculptures to his so-called super flat paintings, in which he combines flat graphic imagery and colours to create highly patterned images. This month, the Google doodle has commemorated Russia day, the 92nd birthday of Richard Scarry, author of the busy town series of children’s books, Les Paul’s 96th birthday and the total lunar eclipse. The summer solstice, which falls on 21 June each year, occurs when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun, creating the longest day in the northern hemisphere. The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The summer solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s and the moon’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun, at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the Polar Regions (where daylight is continuous for many months), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight.
The summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere north of the Tropic of Cancer (23°26’N) and in December in the Southern Hemisphere south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26’S. The Sun reaches its highest position in the sky on the day of the summer solstice. However, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn the highest sun position does not occur at the summer solstice, since the sun reaches the zenith here and it does so at different times of the year depending on the latitude of the observer. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs sometime between December 21 and December 22 each year in the Southern Hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most have held recognition of sign of the fertility, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.
Report by Reuben