December 22 at 4:27 a.m. is the winter solstice. On this day, the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the sun where the northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun as much as possible due to the Earth’s tilted axis. From our position in relation to the sun, this means that it slips “downwards” as far as possible. Polar night prevails north of the Arctic Circle. This means it is dark all day.
However, the shortest day of the year is not also the day with the latest sunrise and the earliest sunset. The sun sets earlier on December 11 than on the shortest day. The latest sunrise is only on December 31, but also with a later sunset. On both days, the length of the day is a few minutes longer than on the shortest day.
Another paradox is that at 01:38 on January 3, 2024, we will be exactly 5 million km closer to the sun than in summer. That is exactly 147,100,632 kilometers.
However, the proximity to the sun has nothing to do with the seasons. The seasons on Earth are caused by the tilt of the Earth’s axis and the associated fluctuating angle of incidence of the sun. The Earth’s angle of inclination to the plane of its orbit is approximately 23.4°. However, as the earth moves in an orbit around the sun and its axis always points in the same direction, the earth’s angle of inclination to the sun changes. In winter in the northern hemisphere, the earth’s axis is tilted away from the sun. In summer, however, it is tilted towards the sun.
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