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Why is it so dark so early? Understanding the earth's tilt

The Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on EUMETSAT's Meteosat-9 captured these four views of the day
The Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on EUMETSAT’s Meteosat-9 captured these four views of the day-night terminator on Dec. 21, 2010, and March 20, June 21, and Sept. 20, 2011. Each image was taken at 6:12 a.m. local time. On March 20 and Sept. 20, that year’s spring and fall equinoxes, the terminator is a straight north-south line, and the sun is said to sit directly above the equator. In 2020, the fall equinox is Sept. 22. (NASA)
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Remember back in June when it was still light at bedtime? Now we’re lucky if we can get in a game of kickball or a walk with the dog after dinner.

That’s because we’re heading toward the winter, when the days are shorter and nights longer. The reason that happens is because the earth’s axis isn’t straight up and down, but at an angle. If you’ve ever seen a globe, think about how it’s tilted to the side.

People who live in the Northern Hemisphere — which includes Iowa and most of the earth’s population — have shorter days in winter because as the earth rotates around the sun we are tilted away from its light. That’s also why it’s colder. Brr!

People in the Southern Hemisphere, which includes countries like Australia, South Africa and Indonesia, have shorter and colder days in what we consider summer months.

The autumnal equinox, which happens Sept. 22 this year, is the day the length of day and night are nearly equal. It’s also the first day of fall.

But don’t be sad about less daylight. It will come back in the spring. Until then, you can do more cool evening activities, like playing ghosts in the graveyard, having an outdoor campfire or stargazing.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

KIDSGAZETTE ARTICLES

10:15AM | Mon, October 19, 2020

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