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The Revolution of The Earth Around Our Sun The earth belongs to the solar system.

This is the system of planets, asteroids, meteoroids, comets, stellar dust and gases that orbit the sun. Each orbit by a member of the solar system is its revolution. A revolution is also called a year. The Earth takes 365.25 day to revolve around the sun. It is during this year or revolution that brings Earth it’s seasons. The sun, although it is in the middle of the Earth’s orbit, it is not in the exact center of the Earth’s orbit. The distance of the Earth from the sun varies as the Earth revolves around the sun. At its closest point the Earth is about 91,000,000 miles from the sun, and 95,000,000 miles from the sun at its farthest point. This makes the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun about 93,000,000 miles. What may seem strange to people in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth is that the Earth is closest to the sun in the winter and farthest from the sun in the summer. Throughout the year, as our small blue planet orbits the Sun, many parts of the Earth experience changing seasons. The warm Spring brings new flowers, and young animals. This is followed by a hot Summer, filled with vacations, hikes, and outdoor swimming. Following Summer is another warm season known as Autumn, where leaves turn beautiful shades of reds and browns before falling off of their trees. Finally after all of these warmer seasons comes one that is cold, wet, and dry, known as Winter. What causes the changes that we see throughout the seasons? Why is the Winter cold, and the Summer hot? Notice that the Axis of the Earth is tilted slightly. This causes part of the Earth to lean towards the Sun, while part of it is hidden either beneath the Earth, or above it, causing different parts of the Earth’s surface to receive a different amount of sunlight and heat. As the Earth moves around its orbit the portion leaning towards the Sun changes. Throughout part of the year, the bottom half of the Earth, or Southern Hemisphere leans out towards the Sun, causing the top half of the Earth, or the Northern Hemisphere to lean away from the Sun. During this time of year, the Southern

Hemisphere gets more light and heat, which causes it to be warmer. The effect is that the Southern Hemisphere enjoys Summer. At the same time, the Northern Hemisphere receives less light and heat, making it cooler. While the Southern Hemisphere enjoys Summer, the Northern Hemisphere is in the midst of Winter. As the Earth continues along its orbit around the Sun, the angle that the Earth’s axis tilts changes. Eventually the Northern Hemisphere faces the Sun, and the Southern Hemisphere leans away. During this time of the year, it is the Northern Hemisphere’s turn to enjoy Summer. Solstices At two point through out the year, the tilt of the Earth’s axis reaches its maximum angle compared to the Sun, and begins to move back the other direction. This usually happens around June 21 st, and December 21 st. These days are known as solstices. On these solstices the rays of the Sun shine directly on one of the two tropics. During the June Solstice the rays of the Sun shine directly on the Tropic of Cancer. During the December Solstice the Sun’s rays shine on the Tropic of Capricorn. Equinoxes As the Earth moves around its orbit it reaches two points during the year where the tilt of its axis causes it to be straight relative to the Sun. These days are known as equinoxes. During these equinoxes the rays of the Sun shine directly on the equator. This happens on approximately March 20 th, and September 22 nd. Understanding Time Do you play a sport, or belong to a dance club? Do you swim on a swim team? How does everyone on your team or club know when to meet for practice, or to play in a game or competition? By selecting a specific time to meet, you insure that everyone arrives at around the same time. There are three natural methods for measuring the passage of time. The first is the passage of day and night. As we have already learned, this is caused by the rotation or spinning of the Earth. As one side of our planet faces towards the Sun, the plants and

animals on that side of the planet enjoy the day. As the Earth rotates around, the other side spins around towards the Sun, giving the plants and animals on that side of the Earth the opportunity to enjoy the daylight The second natural method for measuring the passage of time is by watching the phases of our Moon. The Moon moves through a 28 day cycle. Each time a cycle is completed, we say that it is a New Moon, or a new lunar month. Finally, the revolution of the Earth in its orbit provides a third natural method for measuring the passage of time. As the Earth orbits the Sun, it goes through a predictable 365 day cycle, where by many places experience four seasons. For many thousands of years people watched the changing seasons, the phases of the moon, and the passage of days, in order to keep track of how much time had passed by. As civilizations became more advanced however, the need to have a more accurate measurement of time became more important. It was not enough to say ‘lets meet in three days’, people needed to know what time to meet, or what time to do the various activities that are necessary to maintain a civilization. A system for measuring time was developed that depended on man-made quantities of time. These measurements are today known as hours, minutes, and seconds. Dividing the day into 24 equal parts called hours allowed people to be more accurate. Now instead of saying ‘lets meet in three days’ you could say ‘lets meet in three days, at noon’.

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