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Revolution of the Earth: Speed & Effects

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  • 0:00 What Is a Revolution?
  • 0:22 Revolution and Seasonal Change
  • 1:30 Revolution Speed and Distance
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dominic Corsini
Why do seasons change? What causes leap years? This lesson answers those questions through an investigation into Earth's revolution. Illustrations, a lesson summary, and brief quiz are also included.

What Is a Revolution?

Why do seasons change? Do you have any ideas? The truth is that seasonal change occurs because of two things; the tilt of Earth on its axis and its revolution around the sun. Revolution is the term used to describe the orbit of Earth in space and will be the focus of this lesson.

Revolution and Seasonal Change

Earth revolves around the sun in a counter-clockwise manner with one complete revolution taking 365 ¼ days. This extra quarter day is responsible for our leap year every four years. But, the revolution of Earth is responsible for things much more noticeable than leap years. It's also responsible for our changing seasons.

Notice how the earth has its top tilted away from the sun? This means the Northern hemisphere (the top half) receives less direct solar radiation than the Southern hemisphere (the bottom half). That variance causes the Northern hemisphere to experience winter, while the Southern hemisphere experiences summer.

If Earth didn't revolve, this situation would never change and the Northern hemisphere would experience constant winter. Fortunately, Earth is not static and does revolve. When the Northern and Southern hemispheres are experiencing equal amounts of direct solar radiation, this translates to spring and fall in the respective hemispheres, depending on whether we are moving towards summer or winter.

Revolution Speed and Distance

Earth revolves around the sun at about 108,000 kilometers per hour, which is roughly the equivalent of 67,000 miles per hour. Suffice to say that's pretty quick. We don't notice that speed on Earth because everything around us is moving at the same rate, which is why the screen you're looking at appears to be stationary. But rest assured, we're all traveling through space together at a pretty good clip.

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