The reason for the seasons

From the Institute for Climate Education @ A-B Tech:  On June 20 at 7:09 p.m. EDT, we officially entered summer as people across the Northern Hemisphere noted the summer solstice. This event occurs when the Earth’s northern axis is at its greatest tilt toward the Sun. It is because our planet is tilted on its axis of rotation by about 23.5 degrees that we experience seasons. As you can see in the image below, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun during our summer, and away from the sun during our winter. (Look here for the Winter Solstice e-mail from December 21, 2011 “Bring on the Light”.)

Image: NOAA

The result of the Earth’s tilt is evident if you take careful note of where the sun rises and sets on our horizon throughout the year. The panoramic image below is of the eastern horizon from a peak in Madison County, where I’ve been carefully watching the sun make its trek throughout the seasons. It really is amazing what a difference it is.

So, enjoy the long summer days. Both yesterday and today have the longest hours of daylight for the year in Asheville: 14 hours, 34 minutes and 4 seconds. Compared to the 9 hours and 45 minutes of daylight we see on the shortest day at the winter solstice, that’s a big difference – and reason enough to celebrate this amazing place that we live. 

Happy summer!


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