Differences of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Joseph Wallace

Joseph is a recently retired elementary school principal and is a teacher with 36 years of experience in elementary education. He hold an EdS in Advanvced Professional Studies

I flew to Australia to visit my friend, Sam, for Christmas. It was winter when I left the United States, but summer when I landed in Australia! How could that be? This lesson will explain.

What Is a Hemisphere?

We live on a planet that's shaped like a sphere, or a ball. If you took a ball, like a basketball or a soccer ball, and drew a straight line right around the middle of the ball, like you were going east to west on the globe, you would have cut the ball, or sphere, in half. Each half is called a hemisphere, and the line you have drawn is called the equator.

The equator is an imaginary line that divides the earth into halves called the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. When we say that the equator is an imaginary line, we mean that there is no physical or real line cutting the earth in half. It is a line drawn on maps to show where the hemispheres are located. The Northern Hemisphere lies above or to the north of the equator, while the Southern Hemisphere lies to the south or below the equator.

Map of the World
World map

Some Differences between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres

I have a friend Sam, from Australia, who enjoys warm, summertime weather at Christmas time, while Christmas time in most of the United States is cold and wintery. This is because Australia lies in the Southern Hemisphere while the United States lies in the Northern Hemisphere, and when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere. This happens because, as the earth rotates around the sun, it is tilted or leans to one side. This causes one hemisphere to be closer to the sun while the opposite hemisphere faces away. The hemisphere facing the sun experiences summer while the hemisphere facing away from the sun experiences winter.

Remember, hemisphere means 'half of a sphere,' so both hemispheres are the same size, but most of the planet's land is in the Northern Hemisphere. This includes all of North America, Europe, most of Africa and most of Asia. Much of the Southern Hemisphere is made up of seas and oceans, but land can be found there also. This includes Australia, most of South America, southern Asia, southern Africa and all of Antarctica.

Most people in the world live in the Northern Hemisphere, so the Northern Hemisphere, in most places, is dirtier or more polluted than the Southern Hemisphere. And because there are fewer people in the Southern Hemisphere, the night skies there are clearer because there is less of the dust and light pollution you get from big human settlements, so it is easier to see the stars. There are also more stars to see since there are eleven constellations visible over the South Pole, while there are only five visible over the North Pole. (A constellation is a large group of stars.)

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