What causes the Seasons?

Thursday, September 14, 2023

I live in the southern portion of the US and therefore have the joy of experiencing seasons.  I really enjoy summer but then after a while I look forward to fall and cooler temperatures. Once I get used to cold temperatures I appreciate the winter, but near the end I can't wait for spring to arrive.

In reality seasons only occur in two regions of the world. They are the temperate zones that  are located 23.5 degrees north and south and 66.5 degrees north and south.

location seasons

In the northern hemisphere spring begins around March 21, Summer around June 21st, Autumn around September 23, and Winter begins around December 21. 

dates of seasons

We know when seasons occur, but what causes the seasons? It would make sense that the winter occurs when the Earth is furthest from the sun and summer occurs when the earth is closest to the sun. but in reality it is almost the opposite. The main reason for seasons is that the Earth is tilted on its axis. The earth sits at 23.44 degrees. As the earth revolves around the sun this tilt of the Earth’s axis causes sunlight to strike certain regions of the Earth at different angles.

tilt of earth

The hemisphere that is tilted towards the Sun is warmer because sunlight travels more directly to the Earth’s surface, and  is less scattered and as a result there is more energy per square kilometer.

Winter occurs when the hemisphere is pointed away from the sun. This results in the sunlight striking the Earth at a more indirect angle and this results  in less energy per square kilometer.

During spring and fall the angle of the sun is in between the winter and summer and that is why the temperature is somewhere in between summer and winter.


The tilt of the Earth also causes  the hemisphere that’s tilted closest to the Sun to have the longest days and the hemisphere tilted away from the sun to  have the shortest days.This also impacts temperature.

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