Seasons: when the days get shorter or longer

The earth, as we know, turns around its axis once in 24 hours, which is why it is light in the morning and dark in the evening. Besides, she turns around within a year sun. How it all relates to the seasons and why some days are longer than others? What is the solstice – and why does it become the time of "midsummer" in the northern regions of Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic States? End of June even at night not at all or not really dark?

The position of the earth in relation to the sun is responsible not only for the fact that it becomes light in the morning and dark in the evening, but also for the seasons and climatic zones: the earth rotates once a day on its own axis and once a year around the sun.

From the "position of the sun depends on the earth – for example, the seasons, the climate zones and the temperatures. As we all know, the earth moves in an elliptical (egg-shaped) orbit around the sun within one year. Also, the Earth rotates on its own axis every day – we must think of this as a straight line running through the Earth and connecting three points, namely the North Pole, the South Pole and the center of the Earth.

The rotation around its own axis is responsible for the change between day and night: We turn away from the sun in the evening, are on the side facing away from the sun at night, and turn back toward the sun toward morning – that’s why it seems as if the sun rises in the sky and "wanders" throughout the day. When night falls here, in other regions of the world – for example in New Zealand – the next day already begins.

Seasons: Toward or Averse to the Sun

Annual course of the earth around the sun: on the far left is shown the orientation of the earth to the sun when it is summer in the northern hemisphere, on the far right when it is winter in the northern hemisphere.

However, we would not have seasons, but approximately constant temperatures, if the axis of the Earth were perpendicular to its orbit around the Sun. But as we know, there are different seasons in the northern and also in the southern hemisphere – when winter comes to us in the northern hemisphere, it is warm and summery in regions of the southern hemisphere – for example in South Africa.

How exactly do the different seasons come about? The axis of the earth has an angle of inclination of 23.5 degrees to the vertical. Since the Earth revolves around the Sun, the position of the Earth’s axis is not always the same: for part of the year, the northern hemisphere is more inclined towards the Sun than the southern hemisphere, and vice versa. The more perpendicular the sun’s rays are in a region, the warmer the temperatures are – because the "straighter" the sun is, the warmer the temperatures are and so more directly the rays hit the earth, the more concentrated the energy hits the earth’s surface. At the warm time of year, the sun is also higher in the sky at noon and the days are longer overall.

In the colder seasons the rays hit the earth’s surface at a more oblique angle, thus the energy is distributed over a larger area. The closer a region is to the equator – located at zero latitude, exactly halay between the north and south poles – the less pronounced are the seasons. Because at the equator the inclination of the earth hardly makes itself felt, therefore also the days and nights are always approximately equally long. In these regions of the earth, where the sun’s rays strike almost perpendicularly, it is warm all year round. In the regions near the poles, on the other hand, there are always icy temperatures, since the sun’s rays always fall at a shallow angle here.

Solstice: When the days get shorter or longer

When it is springtime here, the northern hemisphere of the earth is more inclined to the sun on its orbit than in the cold season.

The sun has the northern turning point on 21. June reached – it is particularly inclined to the northern part of the earth then. This date is also known as the "summer solstice (beginning of summer): Now we experience the "longest day" of the year, the sun seems to be almost perpendicular above the Tropic of Cancer.

According to the former Julian calendar, the summer solstice falls on 24. June, on the day of the birthday of John the Baptist – solstice and St. John’s Day thus coincided. Even today, many festivals are held around the summer solstice and St. John’s Day: Solstice fires are held, and fireworks are also held and fires are lit on St. John’s Day, symbolizing the sun and, in the Christian faith, Jesus Christ. In many countries, it is traditional to dance around the fire or jump over it on St. John’s Day, which is said to bring good luck.

In the colder months of the year, the sun’s rays hit the earth’s surface at a more oblique angle, which causes them to lose energy and thus heat along the way.

After that, the days gradually get shorter again and the nights longer. On the winter solstice on 21. or 22. December, the height of the sun in the sky at noon no longer decreases, but the sun slowly rises again – from now on the days become longer again. ÜAll over the world, ancient peoples are now celebrating the "rebirth" of the sun.

When it is winter in the northern hemisphere, it is warm in the southern hemisphere – seen from the southern hemisphere, summer and winter solstice are exactly reversed, therefore the summer solstice falls on the 21st day of the year. or 22. December. Each of us probably knows the little verse "In the east the sun rises, in the south it takes its course, in the west it wants to set, in the north it is never seen"." However, things are quite different if you live on the southern part of the globe – here, on the other hand, the sun is not visible in the south.

Midsummer: When night becomes day

A Saint Hans bonfire in Denmark, at which a straw witch is traditionally burned

Midsummer in the northernmost countries of Europe, such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden, is the time around the end of June when the sun is facing the northern hemisphere. At this time it is summery warm with us and bath weather announced. Due to the inclination of the earth, it does not get dark or at least not really dark at night in the northernmost parts of these countries – this is why it is also called the "white nights in the north: The sun’s rays penetrate across the North Pole in the far north even to the side of the Earth where it is night at the moment. In areas north of the Arctic Circle – for example, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen – the sun does not set at all around the summer solstice and is still fully visible at night, this is called "midnight sun" designated.

This time is celebrated extensively in the Scandinavian and Nordic countries – the Midsummer Festival is one of the most important festivals of the year there: In Sweden the "Midsommar" is celebrated always celebrated on the Saturday that falls between the 20th and the 20th. and the 26. June lies. The houses are decorated with foliage and flowers and decorated tree trunks are put up. People then hold festivals together with dancing and folk songs. To eat, there are young potatoes, which are usually served together with herring and sour cream.

Midsummer festival in Årsnas in Sweden: a decorated tree trunk is set up and people celebrate and dance.

In Denmark and Norway, the 23. June, on the eve of St. John’s Day, for the "Saint Hans Festival" have a big fire. Danes also often burn a straw witch – symbolizing the "evil forces", which should be kept away. In Estonia, the Midsummer Festival, which is considered the most important holiday in the country, is celebrated from the evening of the 23rd of December. to the morning of the 24. June celebrated in. At this time, the cities are almost deserted, as the important festival is celebrated in the countryside. Midsummer is one of the most important festivals of the year in Finland as well always falls on the Saturday between the 20th. and the 26. June. On this night, people celebrate, dance and sing and light huge fires – mostly on the beach or in clearings. According to the traditional belief, the celebration drove away "evil spirits" and ensured a good harvest.

Seasons: Overview of the Lines of the Earth’s Orbit and the Position of the Earth to the Sun at the Time of the Beginning of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter

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