The landscape and weather change greatly during the year in regions that have four distinct seasons.
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Images Courtesy of Corel
What Causes the Seasons?
The Earth's orbit is in the shape of an ellipse (a stretched out
circle), so that sometimes the Earth is closer to the Sun
than at other times. Is this the cause of the seasons?
You can imagine that if the seasons were caused by the Earth's orbit,
people who live north of the Equator (in places like the North
America, Europe and Asia) and people who live south of the equator (in
places like South America, Australia, and Africa) would have the
For example, if winter occured because the Earth was far
away from the Sun, everyplace on the Earth would be cold at the same
But this is not what happens! Summer in the north occurs at the same
time as winter in the south, and vice-versa. It turns out that the
Earth's orbit is nearly a perfect circle, and the difference between
its smallest distance from the Sun and its largest distance is
very small. In fact, the Earth is furthest away from the Sun in June
when it is summer in the north!
The Earth is a very special planet in many ways. Just as Earth's
unique atmosphere and its distance from the Sun work together to make
Earth the right temperature to support life,
Earth's orbit and its rotation work together to create the
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