The Earth goes through a constant cycle of day and night because it rotates on an axis. At any point in time, only about half of the Earth is facing the sun, while the other side is facing away from it. The side that is facing the sun is illuminated (day) while the side facing away from the sun remains dark (night).Know More
The Earth takes about 24 hours to rotate once. For an observer living on the equator, the day and night are both approximately 12 hours long. This is the constant condition near the equator, where the sun’s rays are roughly perpendicular to the Earth’s surface all year. However, because the Earth’s axis is approximately 23.5 degrees different from the sun’s axis, the Earth is tilted. This means that the length of day and night changes for observers living far from the equator.
In January, when the Earth is at its closest approach to the sun, called its perihelion, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, according to About.com. This tilt causes the days to become shorter and the nights to become longer. Conversely, during the same period, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, providing it with longer days and shorter nights. At the opposite end of the Earth’s orbit, called the aphelion, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, while the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away from it, reversing the pattern.
All planets rotate around their axis as they orbit their star. Some planets rotate quickly, such as Jupiter, which rotates completely in a little less than 10 hours. At the other end of the spectrum, Venus takes more than 225 Earth days to make one complete rotation.Learn more about Astronomy
A lunar eclipse happens when Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun. During a lunar eclipse, the face of the moon appears to turn reddish as Earth occludes the sunlight that is normally hitting its surface.Full Answer >
The Earth's rotation means that the sun is visible during certain times and blocked during other times. When the sun is visible, it is daytime; when it is blocked, night has come.Full Answer >
The equator receives equal day and night throughout the year because it does not tilt in relation to the sun's location. Because of the tilted axis of the Earth, the poles and locations away from the equator lean towards or away from the sun as an orbit is completed, while the equator stays in essentially the same location relative to the sun.Full Answer >
An eclipse is caused by the movement of a moon or planet into the shadow of another. The two types of eclipses that occur on Earth (solar and lunar) involve the interplay of the intersecting rotations of Earth and the moon around the sun.Full Answer >