The tilt also affects the daily amount of light — without it the whole planet would have hour days and nights every day of the year. Australia has summer at the end of the year when the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun. In summer, days are longer because more hours are spent facing the Sun.
And they're hotter because we're facing the Sun more head-on — so we get hit by more rays of sunlight than if we were on an angle. The summer solstice in Australia — about December 22 — is when we have our longest day of the year. On this day the Sun is as far south in the sky as it gets — it passes directly above the Tropic of Capricorn, roughly over Rockhampton. But while we're busy planning Christmas barbecues, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun.
That means there are fewer daylight hours up there and the light is spread out over a greater surface area, so it doesn't get as warm. Their shortest day — the winter solstice — happens on our longest. The tables turn six months later, when the Earth is halfway around its orbit of the Sun.
The northern hemisphere's summer solstice longest day matches our winter solstice around June 22, when the Sun is as far north as it goes — above the Tropic of Cancer. In spring and autumn the planet isn't tilted towards or away from the Sun — it's roughly side-on. And for two days each year the Earth's tilt is exactly side-on to the Sun.
The two days are called equinoxes equal nights , and they fall in the middle of spring and autumn, usually on September 22 and March But spring and autumn only happen in mid-latitude areas of our planet. It's a different story in the tropics and at the frozen ends of the planet. Some parts of the polar regions are so consistently cold — and the tropics so hot — they could pass for having only one season. Even the sunniest Antarctic day is as cold as winter in most places.
This is because the light reaching the bottom of the planet is at such a low angle it doesn't carry much heat. On the other hand, the tropics are consistently hot. It doesn't matter if they're tilted towards or away from the Sun, they're still closer to it than anywhere else on Earth and they get plenty of direct light and heat.
In the polar regions , the main difference comes down to the amount of daylight. During 'summer', the whole area is tilted towards the Sun and flooded with sunlight.
Daytime at the poles lasts for half the year. In the tropics , the difference between seasons is due to rainfall. The wet is caused by a permanent belt of storm clouds around the middle of the planet that dumps huge volumes of rain on the land or sea below. Thanks to the tilt of the planet and some super-sized sea breezes, the storm belt doesn't stay in one place. During the northern summer, the hot air over the land rises, sucking the storm belt as far north as the Tropic of Cancer, doling out monsoons wherever it goes. As the northern summer ends the storms are dragged down towards the Tropic of Capricorn, driving the southern tour of the monsoons.
The belt travels across the equator twice a year, once going south and once on the way back up. If they've got the right combination of mountains, wind and sea temperature, some equatorial areas — such as Kuala Lumpur — can score two wet seasons each year. Fortunately, the Top End is far enough from the equator to just have the one wet season — imagine how crazy Darwin would get with two build-ups each year…. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC.
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Read about our editorial guiding principles and the standards ABC journalists and content makers follow. Earth travels around the Sun on an oval-shaped path known as an orbit. If it wasn't for Earth's orbit, the same side of the planet would directly face the sun and temperatures would remain either perpetually hot or cold year round. While journeying around the sun, our planet doesn't "sit" perfectly upright -- rather, it leans On the contrary, if a region is located slantwise from the sun for example, like Earth's poles are the same amount of energy is received, but it intercepts Earth's surface at a shallower angle, resulting in less intense heating.
Because it greatly affects the intensity of heating, Earth's tilt -- not its distance from the sun -- is considered to be the primary cause of the 4 seasons. Together, Earth's tilt and trip around the sun create the seasons. But if Earth's motions gradually change at each point along its route, why are there only 4 seasons? Observed on June 20 or 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is the date on which Earth's axis points its innermost towards the sun.
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As a result, the sun's direct rays strike at the Tropic of Cancer This means that warmer temperatures and more daylight are experienced there. The opposite applies for the Southern Hemisphere, whose surface is curved farthest away from the Sun. On December 20 or 21, 6 months after the first day of summer, Earth's orientation has totally reversed. Despite Earth being its closest to the sun yes, this happens in winter -- not summer , its axis now points its farthest away from the sun. This puts the Northern Hemisphere in a poor position for receiving direct sunlight, as it has now migrated its aim at the Tropic of Capricorn Decreased sunlight means cool temperatures and shorter daylight hours for locations north of the equator and more warmth for those located to its south.
The mid-points between the two opposing solstices are known as the equinoxes. Once again, the opposite applies for the Southern Hemisphere.
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