When is the official start of summer in NI?

Thursday is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and the beginning of summer in Northern Ireland - astronomically speaking.

This event, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is most inclined towards the sun, results in the longest period of daylight in a day.

Residents in Belfast can expect 17 hours, 16 minutes, and 44 seconds of daylight on Thursday.

Those living on Rathlin Island get 10 minutes more, at 17 hours, 26 minutes, and 42 seconds - according to Time and Date.

Longest day of the year

The solstice, which derives from the Latin word 'solstitium', meaning 'sun standing still', happens at about 21:50 BST across the Ireland, which has a rich history of solstice celebrations, dating back to ancient times.

Newgrange in County Meath is one of the most iconic sites, while the ancient Navan Fort in County Armagh holds events to celebrate the people who honoured the seasons of nature.

Following the solstice, stargazers will witness another celestial event - the full Strawberry Moon on Friday.

Viewing of this full moon, named by Native Americans to mark the beginning of strawberry harvesting season, may be hampered by the weather.

The current forecast is for a lot of cloud on Friday evening and through the night into Saturday, but some breaks are expected.