Reasons for Seasons – Earth’s Transitions From One Season to Another


Reasons for Seasons

Reasons for Seasons
We all enjoy the earth’s transitions from one season to another. However, many of us cannot explain how and why the seasons occur the way they do. The causes and occurrences of the four seasons, winter summer, autumn and spring is a matter that has been subject to debate among students, scholars, geologists and researchers. From a scientific approach, the four seasons occur due to several reasons ranging from the earth’s angles of tilt, axis and the angles of or planet’s obliquity cycles (Ackermann, 1997). Nevertheless, few people have this knowledge. Students in particular, make many mistakes and believe have misconceptions about the reason for seasons. The following paper shall discuss the misconceptions about reasons for seasons, highlight the scientific facts, and explain the reasons why we have seasons.
To begin with, many at times, students believe that the earth’s four seasons are brought about by the varying distance of earth in relation to the sun at different times of the year (Plait, 2002). This is a common misconception and it involves the belief that the earth moves around the sun following an elongated oval-shaped path, causing the varying lengths between the sun and the earth thereby causing seasons. When the earth is at a point that is furthest from the sun, then it will experience winter and when it is at its closest, it experiences summer. Although this may seem like a valid explanation, it is extremely wrong for scientists have proved that the earth’s orbit is not only elliptical, but also almost a perfect circle (Plait, 2002). Therefore, it would be wrong to say that some positions in the earth’s orbit are so distant from the sun as compared to others that are so close.
Secondly, other students believe that the sun, against common belief, is not situated at the center of our planet’s orbit; therefore, the earth will be closer to it or farther away from it at specific times of the year (Plait, 2002). Actually, it is true that the sun’s location is not completely at the center of the elliptical orbit; however, as mentioned earlier, since the planet’s orbit is almost a perfect circle, it is wrong to say that the space between the earth and the sun varies from time to time. In accordance with scientists, the earth’s distance from the sun remains constant at almost all times of the year.
Over the year, the earth’s tilted angle does not show a discrepancy. In short, the northern axis of the earth always points to one side in space. At that moment in time, this direction in space is relatively in the direction of a star known as the North Star, popularly referred to as Polaris. However, the compass bearing of the planet’s tilt with regard to the sun alters as the earth orbits around the sun (Ackermann, 1997). As a result, the Northern Hemisphere leans in the direction of the sun for almost six months and is oriented away from the sun for a period of six months as well. This also applies to the Southern Hemisphere.

Figure1.1 from www.indepth information (2016)

In accordance with the Kepler’s First Law of Planetary Motion, each and every one of the planets in the solar system has more or less an elliptical path around the sun (Ackermann, 1997). The precession of the perihelion is a phenomenon that does not allow the orbit to act as a simple curve. Therefore, any that is body orbiting around the sun has a farthest and a closest position from the sun; this explains the apside that is a collective name of the aphelion and the perihelion. The nearest position to the sun within any planet’s path is known as a perihelion while the outermost position is known as an aphelion. A planet revolves slowly around the aphelion and quickest at the perihelion.
When the earth is positioned at the perihelion, it records an approximate distance of about 91 million miles away from the sun. On the other hand, at the aphelion, it is approximately 95 million miles away (Ackermann, 1997). There is a difference of about 4 million miles between the times when the earth is at the aphelion and when it is at the perihelion. However, this is not the reason as to why we experience the four seasons.
Figure 1.2 from www.indepth information (2016)
Furthermore, when our planet is nearest to the sun, the northern hemisphere experiences winter while the southern hemisphere experiences summer (Ackermann, 1997). Therefore, distance does not necessarily influence which season takes place. Instead, we experience the four seasons for the reason that the earth does not rotate with an exact upright axis but with an inclined angle of about 23 degrees. As a result, during December and January, the angle positions the sun far in the south so that the north will experience a winter and vice versa (Ackermann, 1997).
While it may not be the case for the earth, several planets have extremely prolonged orbits. For instance, Pluto is located farthest from the sun at the aphelion as compared to its position at the perihelion. Pluto does not experience the four seasons. According to scientists, a prolonged trajectory has a greater eccentricity (Ackermann, 1997). Therefore, Pluto’s orbit is long and emaciated and not nearly as close to a circle but to an oval. Due to the elongated distance at when the earth is at the aphelion, about 93% solar radiation covers a particular area of ground as compared to when it is at perihelion (Ackermann, 1997). This explains why some planets do not experience the four seasons as we do.

Ackermann, P. (1997). The Four Seasons. Japanese images of nature: Cultural perspectives, (1), 36.
Plait, P. C. (2002). Bad astronomy: misconceptions and misuses revealed, from astrology to the moon landing” hoax”. John Wiley & Sons.













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Reasons for Seasons – Earth’s Transitions From One Season to Another. (2022, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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