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Q:

# Why are summer days long and winter days short?

A:

The Earth's tilt on its axis is what causes the change in the seasons and explains why summer days are longer than winter days. The Earth orbits in an ellipse around the Sun, and because of this, it draws closer to the Sun at some points than at others. It is the direction of the Earth's tilt in its axis that determines the length of days and nights.

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An ellipse is an oval shape rather than a circle. In the summertime in the northern hemisphere, the Earth is farther from the Sun because of the ellipse in its orbit, but the angle of the Earth's tilt points the hemisphere towards the Sun, making the days longer. The Sun's angle is also higher during the summer months than the winter months. In the winter, the Earth's orbit draws it closer to the Sun, but the Earth's axis tilts away from the sun, making the days shorter in the northern hemisphere. The summer solstice marks the first day of the summer and the longest day of the year. This is because the North Pole is pointed the closest to the Sun than any other day of the winter. The reverse is true during the winter solstice when the North Pole is tilted the farthest from the Sun.

## Related Questions

• A:

The change in seasons is caused by the varying angle of the Earth's tilt from one part of the year to another. A common misconception is that the change in seasons is due to the Earth's slightly elliptical orbit bringing the planet closer to the sun in summer, but, as About.com notes, seasons are different in the northern hemisphere and the southern, which are the same distance from the sun.

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• A:

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).

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• A:

The sun always rises in the east because of Earth's eastward rotation on its axis. This rotation causes the sun to first be seen on the eastern horizon on any day at any given point on the planet.