Earth selfie: South American summer

Summer in the southern hemisphere
The heart of summer in the southern hemisphere.
NASA | NOAA's DSCOVR mission

The Earth's tilt is prominent this week as we race towards the winter solstice. We compare this week's view of Earth with a view from October to show what part of the Earth is directly facing the Sun.

The Earth's axial tilt is responsible for its seasons, creating the constant seasonal cycle of warm and cool.

A combined image showing Earth's tilt
These side-by-side images from October and December show the tilt of the Earth that brings summer to the Southern Hemisphere.
MPR News graphic | Photos via NASA

In the North American winter, the tilt shifts the northern hemisphere away from the sun, creating shorter days and less solar energy. That's how the months of December, January and February end up cooler than the rest. At the same time, the earth's tilt brings the long summer days — and the accompanying increased solar energy — to Earth's southern hemisphere.

The difference between October and December is quite apparent as we compare views of the Americas.

The map indicates the locations of Caracas, Venezuela, on the northern end of South America, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, on the eastern edge of the Andes.

This week, Minneapolis' days will have just under 9 hours of daylight, while Santa Cruz de la Sierra will have 13. After Dec. 22, the winter solstice, the tilt will start increasing the length of daytime in the northern hemisphere as it slowly faces more toward the sun.

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