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Importance of the Tropic of Cancer & the Tropic of Capricorn Video & Lesson Transcript Study com

everybody knows where the equator Arctic

Circle and Antarctic Circle are the

equator swings around Earth's belly the

Arctic Circle swings around the top of

Earth in your Santa in the Antarctic

Circle of course is closer to the

Penguins of the South Pole but what in

the world are the Tropic of Capricorn

and the Tropic of Cancer

this lesson will tell you what they are

where they are and what their

significance is to the tropical zone and

the Arctic and Antarctic circles let's

get right to it then the Tropic of

Cancer is a circle of latitude located

approximately 23 and 1/2 degrees north

of the Equator and the Tropic of

Capricorn is a circle of latitude

located approximately 23 and 1/2 degrees

south of the equator the area of Earth

located in between the Tropic of Cancer

and Tropic of Capricorn is known as the

tropics or tropical or torrid zone you

know it's the area of Earth it's really

hot and lots of rainforests lie the

reason cancer and Capricorn are part of

their respective names has more to do

with history than anything happening

right now in ancient times when these

lines were named the Sun was in front of

the constellation cancer in our sky

during the summer solstice and in front

of the constellation Capricorn in our

sky during the summer solstice the

summer or northern solstice marks the

beginning of summer in the Northern

Hemisphere and a winter in the southern

hemisphere it occurs around June 21st of

every year the winter or southern

solstice is the time winter begins in

the northern hemisphere and summer

begins in the southern hemisphere around

December 21st of each year due to

precession or the wobbling of Earth's

axis with time the Sun is no longer in

these constellations during these times

but the names have stuck nonetheless ok

ok so what's the big deal with the

tropics of cancer and Capricorn anyways

what do they tell us well the Sun never

appears directly overhead at the zenith

anywhere outside the tropics the points

on the Tropic of Cancer are

the northernmost points or the Sun can

pass directly overhead this means that

if you're located north of the Tropic of

Cancer The Sun will always appear south

of the zenith it is at noon of June 21st

of each year when the Sun is directly

overhead on the Tropic of Cancer marking

the beginning of summer in the northern

hemisphere

on the other hand the points on the

Tropic of Capricorn are the southernmost

points where the Sun can pass directly

overhead if you're somewhere south of

the Tropic of Capricorn the Sun appears

to be always north of the zenith and as

you may have already guessed on December

21st of each year the Sun is directly

overhead at noon on the Tropic of

Capricorn signaling the beginning of

summer in the southern hemisphere the

tropical zone is thus the only area of

earth where the Sun can appear directly

overhead and it does so twice within

this zone as it passes between its

boundaries because the tropical zone

receives so much more direct or

concentrated sunlight compared to the

rest of the earth it helps to explain

why it is so darn hot over there

contrast this with the area north of the

Arctic Circle during the winter solstice

and the area south of the Antarctic

Circle during the summer solstice these

circles of latitude are both located at

about 66 and 1/2 degrees north or south

latitude respectively during the winter

solstice the Sun does not rise north of

the Arctic Circle and does not set south

of the Antarctic Circle during the

summer solstice the Sun does not rise

south of the Antarctic Circle and does

not set north of the Arctic Circle you

would think that because each region

receives a ton of sunlight during at

least parts of the year they should be

really hot for at least half the time

but remember what I said about the

importance of the tropics of Capricorn

and cancer north or south of these

circles of latitude the Sun is never

directly overhead

this means the sunlight hits the surface

of the earth at a really low angle the

farther away from the tropics you go

instead of concentrating solar energy

onto smaller tracks of

and like a magnifying glass at the

tropics such a low angle of incidence

spreads out a limited solar energy onto

larger areas of land disabling the sun's

ability to properly heat the earth in

these areas partially explaining the

cold weather over there on this Santa

can move the Tropic of Cancer North by

quite a bit he'll always be flying

around in the cold as a result the

Tropic of Cancer is a circle of latitude

located approximately 23 and 1/2 degrees

north of the Equator and it lies in

opposition to the Tropic of Capricorn

which is a circle of latitude located

approximately 23 and 1/2 degrees south

of the equator the area of earth located

in between the Tropic of Cancer and

Tropic of Capricorn is known as the

tropics or tropical zone or torrid zone

the Sun never appears directly overhead

at the zenith anywhere outside the

tropics it's during the summer solstice

when the Sun is directly overhead on the

Tropic of Cancer the summer or northern

solstice marks the beginning of summer

in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in

the southern hemisphere it occurs around

June 21st of every year conversely it's

during the winter solstice when the Sun

is directly overhead on the Tropic of

Capricorn the winter or southern

solstice is the time winter begins in

the northern hemisphere and summer

begins in the southern hemisphere around

December 21st of each year remember

because the Sun is able to shine

directly overhead in the tropical zone

it is able to concentrate its sunlight

like a magnifying glass can concentrate

sunlight onto smaller areas of land this

heats the land up quite a bit at

latitudes north or south of the tropics

the sunlight hits the earth at lower

angles spreading out its limited solar

energy on to larger swaths of land this

means the land is unable to heat up as

much