Have you ever wondered why the seasons change? Why does a beautiful spring season turn warmer into summer? Or, why does summer fade to brilliant, autumn leaves and eventual snow and winter ice? Maybe Alice in Wonderland’s description needs a little more explanation.
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Many people believe that Earth is closer to the sun in the summer and that is why it is hotter. And, likewise, they think Earth is farthest from the sun in the winter.
Although this idea makes sense, it is incorrect.
According to NASA, it is true that Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle. It is a bit lopsided. During part of the year, Earth is closer to the sun than at other times. However, in the Northern Hemisphere, we are having winter when Earth is closest to the sun and summer when it is farthest away! Compared with how far away the sun is, this change in Earth’s distance throughout the year does not make much difference to our weather.
There is a different reason for Earth’s seasons. Earth’s axis is an imaginary pole going through the center of Earth from “top” to “bottom.” Earth spins around this pole, making one complete turn each day. That is why we have day and night, and why every part of Earth’s surface gets some of each.
Earth has seasons because its axis doesn’t stand up straight. But what caused Earth to tilt? About 4.5 billion years ago, when Earth was young, it is thought that something big, called the Theia Impact or the Big Splash Hypothesis, hit Earth and knocked it off-kilter. So instead of rotating with its axis straight up and down, it leans over a bit. It also blasted a big hole in the surface, which sent a huge amount of dust and rubble into orbit. Most scientists think that that rubble, in time, became our Moon.
As Earth orbits the sun, its tilted axis always points in the same direction. So, throughout the year, different parts of Earth get the sun’s direct rays. If you go to South America for the winter holidays, bring your swimsuit, not your skis!
Sometimes it is the North Pole tilting toward the sun (around June) and sometimes it is the South Pole tilting toward the sun (around December).
It is summer in June in the Northern Hemisphere because the sun’s rays hit that part of Earth more directly than at any other time of the year. It is winter in December in the Northern Hemisphere, because that’s when the South Pole tilts toward the sun. So, that’s a simple explanation for what Yoko Ono so beautifully described:
“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
So, if you are unhappy with today’s heat or cold, just hang on, we’ll be tilting again soon!
Come see us and be in the room and say hello at one of our upcoming workshops. We would love to see you and talk estate planning and/or asset protection!
Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.