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Axial tilt

Axial tilt is an astronomical term regarding the inclination angle of a planet's rotational axis in relation to a perpendicular to its orbital plane.

It is also called axial inclination or obliquity.

The axial tilt is expressed as the angle made by the planet's axis and a line drawn through the planet's center perpendicular to the orbital plane.

The axial tilt may equivalently be expressed in terms of the planet's orbital plane and a plane perpendicular to its axis.

In our solar system, the Earth's orbital plane is known as the ecliptic, and so the Earth's axial tilt is officially called the obliquity of the ecliptic.

The Earth has an axial tilt of about 23 degrees 27’.

The axis is tilted in the same direction throughout a year; however, as the Earth orbits the Sun, the hemisphere (half part of earth) tilted away from the Sun will gradually come to be tilted towards the Sun, and vice versa.

This effect is the main cause of the seasons (see effect of sun angle on climate).

Whichever hemisphere is currently tilted toward the Sun experiences more hours of sunlight each day, and the sunlight at midday also strikes the ground at an angle nearer the vertical and thus delivers more heat.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Axial tilt", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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October 7, 2015

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