“We have a bet riding on this question. Is the sun closer to the earth in the summer or the winter?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff found this to be an interesting question, considering how much snow we have been getting this December.
Our staff member Googled “sun closer to earth in winter or summer” and found several websites which seemed to supply the information we needed. The Library of Congress’ site has a section called Everyday Mysteries [www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/seasons.html] where the question “Why is it hot in summer and cold in winter?” is answered. The sun is closest to the earth in January and furthest in July. It explains though the sun is closer in the winter than the summer, because of the tilt on its axis, the sun’s rays hit the earth at a shallower angle with more atmosphere to go through.This causes less energy to hit any given spot on the surface and factoring in the shorter days and longer nights the earth does not stay as warm. Our staff informed the patron, who was happy that he was going to be a little richer.
Researching further for this article, we went to the website www.space.com/spacewatch/301206_happy_perihelion.html. There we discovered that while the information given in the Library of Congress article was correct, in relationship to the seasons, it is only true for us living in the Northern Hemisphere. As explained, the seasons are determined by the tilt of the earth’s axis, not the distance from the sun. Hopefully this will not void our patron’s winning since in December the earth is always closer to the sun than in July, no matter what the season or hemisphere.