Four Seasons In One Day?

Four seasons in one day
Four seasons in one day

Hardly – Despite it being a beautiful Song by former Kiwi group, Crowded House.

But have you ever heard of eight seasons in one Year?

Neither had i.

But i had a bit of time to think of some things last week owing to some poor health where i just stayed in bed for a few days and in the course of my thoughts (On Genesis 1) i got stuck in a bit of a side-track.

It was concerning the Equator and what happens to the sun there. Or what appears to happen, rather.

Curious point Number One: – this is the only place on the surface of our planet where the sun ALWAYS sets due West and rises due East – every day, all year ’round!. Anywhere else you live the sun’s rising and setting position appears to ‘move’ between North and South of the line that is due East and West from where you are standing throughout a typical year.

Curious Point Number Two: this is the only point on the surface of the planet where the time between sunrise and sunset is always the same – 12 hours.

Those in the Northern hemisphere are used to varying differences in the length of their days as Summer comes and goes back into Winter, while we in the Southern Hemisphere notice exactly the same thing but with our seasons always 6 months out of sequence with yours. Our Summer is when you have Winter and vice versa.

But no two days are the same ‘length’ in succession – they either get longer or shorter… but not at the equator – daylight in Winter lasts as long as a day in Summer!

Now here’s the truly Weird part, Curious Point Number Three!: if you live on the Equator you have TWO ‘Summers’ a year! AND Two Winters. Not only that but your Summer’s happen when everyone else in the world are having their Spring or Autumn and the ‘Winters’ are actually in the two hemisphere’s Summers- and six month’s apart! Sound Crazy? Well, frankly yes, but it is also true.

How can that be you ask? There are clearly only four seasons in one year – everyone ‘knows’ that – Right?

Wrong.

If we define the seasons by the location of the Sun in the sky then at the Equator ‘Normal’ rules no longer apply.

To most of us who live on this planet, Summer is defined as the season when the Sun reaches it’s highest point in the sky at midday (barring daylight ‘savings’ systems) and our days are their longest and hottest, while Winter is just the opposite; the sun ‘rises’ to it’s lowest point at midday and the daylight hours are their shortest and the days the coldest. These are known as midsummer and midwinter’s days and occur during the ‘Solstices’.

Because of the ’tilting’ of the Earth’s axis of rotation, the two hemisphere’s have ‘opposing’ Summer and Winter solstices on the same day of each year – around June 21 and Dec 21.

Yet on these days (ie. two times ever year) the Equator has the sun at it’s LOWEST point (ie Winter) and the sun moves between these twice a year to it’s Highest point (which is also at exactly 90 degrees to the ground) at midday on the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, which makes those two days equivalent to the Equatorial ‘Summer’! The difference is one ‘Winter’ the Sun ‘rises’ to it’s lowest point at Midday in the South and on the other rises to it’s lowest point in the North!

So at the Equator you can have both a ‘Northern’ AND a ‘Southern Winter’ in the same year!

Since the Equator has Two Summers AND Two ‘Winters’ it also must have two Springs and two Autumns making a total of EIGHT Seasons in one Year.

Beat that Neil Finn. 🙂

(Footnote: not by accident, i fancy, the difference between a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter at the equator is hardly noticeable. As one is very rapidly proceeded by another.)

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17 thoughts on “Four Seasons In One Day?

  1. Love, I am so proud of you 🙂

    You see I sell geography and history materials to the school systems so fun facts like these are what make our curriculum a lot of fun.

    And huge KUDOS to you my friend for pointing out the concepts of Summer and seasons. Want to really screw a kid up? Try and teach this 🙂

    I can add some fun facts for you as well.

    **If standing on the equator you weight 2.4lbs less than off of it (great weight loss program except it doesn’t last)
    **You can balance an egg on the head of a nail fairly easily due to the perfect rotation of the earth (and it is hot enough to probably heard boil it while balanced 🙂 )

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  2. Glad to see you are back and feeling better.

    I will guess the we Americans know less about geography than any other subject. Which is why everyone here has a GPS device in their car to tell them where they are, and where they are going. 🙂

    If the people who live on the equator celebrated the change of seasons, like many cultures do, the celebration might last longer than the season. 🙂

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  3. Joseph – all i can say is that it is very uplifting for me personally when i have thought something ‘new’ and someone else GETS what i have said.

    You refreshed my soul a little with your thoughts 🙂

    Screwing a young mind around with this stuff sounds like the sort of thing i might like! 😉

    I suspect there is a possibility though that were it my job to teach stuff i might be ‘overwhelmed’ through superior numbers and i’d be the one needing psychiatric help! 😉

    Those are cool facts! Thank you.

    <B

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  4. Ed – you can’t get rid of me for long! 😉

    The GPS is another gadget the younger generation of Aussies are learning they simply must have – until they learn they end up staying stuck in the glove box and are a $300 paperweight! 😉

    (Those that don’t get stolen from the car in the driveway/parking lot)

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  5. I was on the Equator once. Well just north of it visiting in Nigeria. And it was pretty much what you describe here, sun setting and rising at the same time every day. Hot Hot Hot. HUMID! Rainy, HOT! Oh and the one other season was Hamatan, when the dust winds blow the sand from the desert everywhere.

    What I did love though was the ocean- though dirty and polluted, the water was Hot, hot, hot! 🙂

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  6. Rain – did you happen to notice if the Sun was in the North (shadows point South) or to the South? Or were there too many clouds to tell? 😉

    The eight ‘Seasons’ are more of a technicality than any noticeable change (apart from Hamatan of course!) at the Equator as it basically just feels like a perpetual hot humid Summer there compared to anywhere else on the planet.

    I think you might have mentioned it was a bit Hot? 😉

    As one other useless piece of trivia: the location 0S, 0E ( zero degrees latitude and longitude) is just off the South Cost of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea. This is basically the ‘Centre’ of the World. 🙂 (the point all other locations are referenced ‘from’).

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  7. I didnt notice the direction of the sun Love! I should have paid more attention because that would have been so cool!

    The centre of the world hey? So i can actually say I was once [at] the centre of the world?;)

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  8. 29? Lucky You!

    it was 16.8 max here yesterday 😦

    Over in the East of Aus they are having High Summer temps, here in the West we are supposed to be having Spring and it feels like midwinter and looks set that way for the next 7 days of the forecast?

    Basically our seasons are stuffed! 😉

    Well Done to the Springboks on Saturday – there is really not a lot for West Aussies to smile about lately!

    <B

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  9. haha. Good brain food, blove. I finally made it over here to check out your post. 🙂 I thought I would mention (although it has been quasi-mentioned) that ‘seasons,’ while measured by the sun (in terms of equinoxes), are not actually a reference to the sun, but rather to the weather. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter are the prescribed titles of weather breaks experienced a far enough distance from the equator, and in roughly temperate climates. (I might also add, Westernized cultures.) Other areas of the world, particularly closer or further from the equator, or in other cultures, have different names for the seasons, because they are defined entirely differently. Rainy season and dry season, are two notable ones. In the Bible it references the ‘former and latter rains’ a lot. Why? Because Israel rarely has a ‘winter’ like we do. The water that constitutes our snow comes down in heavy rains (the latter rains). I suppose really, the difference is whether seasons should be approached from a scientific persepective (as you have) or from a cultural perspective. For instance, what do those on the equator define as seasons? Do they even have seasons? If they do, what are they defined by? And also – those on the North or South Pole (who are all scientists, and therefore there’s no cultural consideration here), do they only have one season year-round? By the same logic you’ve applied to the Equator, it seems they should. At any rate … it’s a fun kettle-o-fish you’ve drummed up here. 🙂

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  10. Annie – quite right, seasons are more often a feature of long term weather patterns grouped together throughout a single year on our earth’s trip around our Sun.

    Other cultures have differing names and even numbers of Seasons ( i think the Egyptians traditionally had 3, to do with the annual flooding of the Nile River and their growing/harvesting ‘seasons’).

    Rain pointed out that near the Equator in Nigeria they had a ‘windy’ season when hot winds blew the Saharan Desert sands over the country. Other tropical regions have a ‘Rainy Season’ when the monsoon winds bring the heaviest rains.

    Seasons are largely ‘agricultural time clocks’ for most cultures that tell people the best times to plant the crops so they have the optimum conditions for food production and our calendars are ‘divided’ so as to allow some form of pre-planning for the appropriate planting, growing, harvesting and ‘fallow’ seasons that our culture terms Spring Summer Autumn (Fall) and winter respectively.

    Some areas of the planet are warm enough to require a different arrangement of seasons and the thing that was interesting me most was the reversal of the seasons for the North and South hemispheres and the fact that the Equator is the point at which those 6 month reversals magically ‘switch’ – with the corresponding weirdnesses i pointed out.

    The poles are an all together different thing of course and i may post on those soon! 🙂

    Stay tuned for more weirdness about our planet. 😉

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  11. J-R – well.. you could always spend winter in the Southern Hemisphere?? I hear Australia is nice that time of year! 😉

    Our performing arts academy in Perth is world class with the likes of Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchette studying there in the past. The music department is not to be sniffed at either! 🙂

    <B

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  12. Thanks Sheldon, Come On Down! …. the water’s fine here. 🙂 ( and it’s probably a lot nicer weather all round at the moment, if you don’t mind some hottish days?)

    love.

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  13. Fascinating post and brand new info for me – but I’ll have to take your word for it. You lost me at the first “hot!” I’d *never* experience it for myself and survive to tell about it.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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  14. Welcome Madelyn and thank you for your visit and thoughts. I’m sure you are a lot more resilient than you give yourself credit for 😉 and you’d probably actually thrive here. It’s a mild 87 deg F today with low humidity (as is most often the case for Perth). A hottish day is anything over 105 – but we’ve only had 4 of those so far this Summer which is nearing it’s end, mind you it’s been a mild Summer this year 🙂
    As for taking my word for it – the astronomic basis for the story is very sound – the assumptions i make concerning a ‘poly-seasonal’ result far less so: Trees do not change colour twice a year at the equator (a Fall) for example, and neither do they have two Springs per year where new shoots break out of the frozen ground. I stand by the two summers and winters though 🙂 albeit there would not be a lot of noticable difference in temperatures. Our planet is a never-ending source of Wonder to me.

    love.

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