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solstices & equinoxes

The Scientific Reasons Behind Earth’s Seasons
Image: iStockphoto.com/delectus

The Scientific Reasons Behind Earth’s Seasons

Winter, spring, summer, and fall — the first days of every season are marked with a solstice or equinox. Each occurs twice a year, thanks to the tilt of our planet’s axis as it travels around the sun.

Find out what leads to longer and shorter days, curious effects at the Equator and the Poles, and seasonal opposites in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

NBC
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Solstice and Equinox

Solstice and Equinox

See what signals the seasons at four points during Earth’s yearlong journey around the sun. More...

Video
BrainPOP
Everything You Need to Know:  Winter Solstice 2014

Everything You Need to Know:  Winter Solstice 2014

Set your clocks for 23:03 universal time (that's 5:03 CST) on December 21, 2014 if you want to celebrate the exact moment when the sun reaches its farthest southward point for the year. More...

Article
EarthSky.org
What’s a Solstice?

What’s a Solstice?

See how the "imaginary lines" known as the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn correspond to the summer and winter solstices. More...

Article
NOAA
Plants of the Winter Solstice

Plants of the Winter Solstice

Holly and mistletoe are familiar to holiday celebrations in North America. Yet, many northern European and Asian peoples string fly agaric mushrooms near the hearth. Explore the range of solstice plants. More...

Article
U.S. Forest Service
Vernal Equinox: First-Day-of-Spring Myth Busted

Vernal Equinox: First-Day-of-Spring Myth Busted

Day and night are the same length on the spring equinox, right? Wrong. But the equinoxes are the only time the sun rises due east and sets due west. Find out more. More...

Article
National Geographic
Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Travel to Egypt to watch the winter solstice sun rise between two pillars in the Karnak temple — just has it has done for more than 3,000 years. More...

Video
Science Channel
Auroras on Autumnal Equinox

Auroras on Autumnal Equinox

The change in seasons brings an increase in geomagnetic storms. Browse this collection of aurora photos taken on the autumn day where there are equal hours of daylight and night, the fall equinox. More...

Images
NPR
Season to Season: Earth’s Equinoxes & Solstices

Season to Season: Earth’s Equinoxes & Solstices

The sun’s path in the sky seems to change with the seasons. Take a look at how the Earth tips to make that happen at every equinox and solstice. More...

Article
LiveScience
Summer Solstice at Chaco Canyon

Summer Solstice at Chaco Canyon

Visit Casa Rinconada — one of the largest kivas (ceremonial structures) in the Chaco Canyon region of New Mexico — to see the summer solstice sun "stand still." More...

Video
New Mexico PBS

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