Angle of the Sun
To understand how various parts of the Earth receive less energy, imagine holding a flashlight, and pointing straight at a piece of paper. Light comes out of the flashlight and forms a perfect circle on the paper. At this point, the energy from the flashlight is most concentrated in each square centimeter on the paper. Now imagine angling the paper so that the flashlight’s beam creates a big ellipse on the paper. The same amount of energy is coming out of the flashlight, but it’s being spread out across a much larger area of paper. Each square centimeter of paper is receiving less light than it was before.
Take this analogy to the Earth. When the Sun is directly overhead, like for people in the tropics, the maximum amount of energy is being soaked up by each square meter of Earth. This causes temperatures to rise. For the polar latitudes, the Sun is at a steep angle, so the same amount of energy from the Sun is falling over a much larger area.
During summer in the northern horizon, the Sun is at its maximum angle in the sky, and we get the most energy. But in the winter, the Sun is at a much steeper angle, and so we get less energy from the Sun. And this is why we experience different seasons – it’s all in the angle of the Sun.
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