• Question: If the sun shines directly at earth then what happens to the seasons in the north and south pole

    Asked by gracew to Tom, Sarah, Sami, Sam, Sabina, Rohan, Pawan, Patrick, Ophélie, Nayeli, Mary-Kay, Martin, Mario, Kanta, Joel, Imogen, Gergely, Daniel on 25 Sep 2017.
    • Photo: Sam Parsons

      Sam Parsons answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      This isn’t my area, but lets see if I can get this right. Due to the tilt of the earth, the poles get only two seasons. Summer when the sun is out, and winter when it is not.

      I’m also pretty sure that there are like 4 or 5 north and south poles. But I cant remember why. Must google 🙂

    • Photo: Kanta Dihal

      Kanta Dihal answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      I’m going to answer this question assuming that you’ve learned why we have seasons on Earth: because the axis of the Earth, the line from the North to the South Pole around which the Earth rotates, is tilted. If you don’t understand that, please ask, and I’ll explain further!

      That tilted axis does something bizarre to the seasons on the North and South Poles. Each year, the sun rises once: during the equinox (20 March) when the axis of the earth is at a 90-degree angle to the sun. After that, the North Pole is tilted toward the Sun, so the Sun won’t set *at all* on the North Pole during the entire summer! This is called ‘midnight sun’. The sun will set again during the autumn equinox (which was last week, 22 September). So right now, it’s dark again on the North Pole, until 20 March 2018… However, the sun has just risen on the South Pole, where it’s summer now.

      In the UK, you can see that nights become longer and longer now, with the winter solstice (21 December) having the longest night of the year. This effect becomes more extreme the further north you go: in northern Norway people don’t see daylight for three months during winter. And the poles have the most extreme version of this effect of all.

      Sam said there are 4 or 5 north and south poles. I think Google told him by now that he was probably thinking of the ‘geomagnetic’ and ‘geographic’ poles. The north pole a compass points at is not in the same place as the ‘geographic North Pole’, the axis around which the Earth rotates! A compass points at the ‘geomagnetic north pole’. The location of the geomagnetic north pole changes over time because of processes inside the Earth.

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