Shining some new light on the Earth's tilt

I have noticed that in the winter time, the sun is mostly on the southern side of my house, but as of springtime it starts to creep steadily to the northern side, and by summertime it's above or a bit on the northern side.

I know that Earth orbits around the sun once a year, but does it twist and turn also?

You people there are like the Mob. You've got all the right connections with the right people and the right places. Please don't put out a contract on me for asking this question.

— Carl W., Medford

The right connections and right people? Who have you been talking to, Carl? Start talking. No answer? Fair enough. Then we'll just give you an answer you can't refuse.

As you probably know, the Earth is tilted on its axis, 23.5 degrees to be specific.

"And that tilt doesn't change. It stays pretty much fixed," said Robert Black, planetarium director and astronomy teacher at North Medford High School.

Because of that tilt, the sun's position in the sky is going to vary depending on the Earth's orbit respective to the sun. In short, in winter the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun while in summer it's tilted toward the sun. The Southern Hemisphere's tilt would be opposite, so its seasons are opposite.

After the winter solstice, when the sun is lowest in the sky, it starts to creep up a quarter of a degree a day until summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Then it starts to creep back down again. It shifts its rising and setting points daily, essentially.

"Most people don't notice it as much. It's a gradual motion on the horizon," Black said.


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