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Seasons of the Year
This lesson demonstrates the link between the tilt of the Earth's axis to the plane of the ecliptic and seasons of the year, length of day, effectiveness of sunlight, and polar day and night. It discusses how the inclination of the Earth's rotation axis causes seasons of the year, by varying the length of the local day and the angle at which the Sun's rays arrive on the surface of the Earth, and to recognize that seasons in the southern hemisphere (at middle latitudes) occur at opposite parts of the year from seasons in the US and Europe. The student will also realize that the seasons in the middle-latitudes in US and Europe are quite different from seasons experienced near the equator and also know about the polar day, when the Sun never sets but just marches around the horizon, and the polar night, when it never rises.
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lesson plan
  • Climatology
  • Space science
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
May be used non-commercially as long as credit is given to the author.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-005-150
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 9-12:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Change, constancy, and measurement
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
        • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      • B - Physical science:
        • Motions and forces
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Energy in the earth system
Related resources:
This resource is referenced by 'From Stargazers to Starships'
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Author: Dr David P. Stern
Goddard Space Flight Center