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Professor Astronomy

It's summer!

22 Jun 2010, 05:01 UTC
It's summer!
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Today is the first day of summer, which makes it a great day to address the most common misconception people have about the universe around us: what causes Earth's seasons?

Most people think they know the answer, and most people are wrong. So, the chances are good that you think you know why we have seasons, and that you are wrong. Now don't get angry about being wrong, and don't get defensive. I'll lead you to the right answer, I'll never tell a soul that you were wrong, and you can go forth and pretend that you knew all along. It'll be our secret.

Let's dig in:

Wrong: Earth's distance from the sun causes the seasons. Most people think that the Earth is closer to the sun in the summer and further away in the winter, and this changing distance is what causes the seasons. It is true that the distance between the sun and the Earth changes, and that distance changes from to 91.3 million miles to 94.4 million miles. But the Earth is closest to the sun in early January, and furthest from the sun in July, almost exactly backwards from what most people in the Northern ...

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