Sunny but cold - Seasons - Science Project
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Skiing on a sunny day
Still in their coats on a sunny day
(Thanks to [seattle + beyond])

To see what a difference it makes whether sunlight hits the Earth directly or at an angle, just think about a sunny day in summer and a sunny day in winter. In summer, when the sun is out it soon gets very hot. Even cloudy days, when the sunlight has to come through clouds, are often very hot. But in the wintertime, even when the sun is out all day, it's still cold. That's because instead of being right overhead, the sun stays lower in the sky all day, and the sunlight hits the ground at an angle.

When the sunlight hits the ground at an angle, the same amount of light - the same number of photons - have to cover much more ground than before, so there are fewer photons for each bit of ground. To see this for yourself, take a flashlight outside at night and point it straight at the ground so that it makes a circle of light. Now slowly tilt the flashlight, so that your circle of light becomes an oval. Is the light dimmer in the oval than it was in the circle? Try tracing your circle and your oval and calculating the area of the circle and the area of the oval. Which one is bigger?

First project to explain the seasons
More about the Earth
More about Weather
More about Seasons

Bibliography and further reading about the seasons:

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 25 April, 2017