Why Do We Have Different Seasons? (2023)

Did you know that the Sun’s light shines differently on Earth at different times of the year? In this visualization watch as the Earth orbits the Sun, rotating, like a slightly tilted, spinning top. This rotation changes the angle at which sunlight hits the surface of our planet, creating the different seasonswe experience here on Earth. Can you see how sunlight at different times of the year changes the productivity of life on land and in our oceans?

Suggested Unit Progression

Educators will notice a natural progression of content spanning the earth and life sciences in this series of three clips using broad scientific data sets. Start off your unit with a hands-on, minds-on activity modeling the cause of the Earth’s seasons (Activity 1), using the video above as reinforcement. Then, explore the effect of the seasons on photosynthesis around the globe in a stunning time lapse. The last clip throws animals into the mix, layering onto this now-familiar map a data set of bird migration patterns.

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Activity 1: Longer Days, Shorter Nights (grades 3-8)

Why Do We Have Different Seasons? (1)

The above clip serves as a helpful follow-up for a longer lesson that makes clear why the Earth has seasons. Get your students to stand up and use their own bodies in an active model! This kinesthetic activity demonstrates to students that the earth's tilt is what is responsible for shifting light patterns and the change in seasons. After your students have a more solid grasp of this traditionally confusing concept, use the above clip to review and reinforce their understanding.

(Video) Why Do We Have Different Seasons? | California Academy of Sciences

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Activity 2: Photosynthesis Seen From Space (grades 6-11)

Why Do We Have Different Seasons? (2)

Now that your students understand the reason for the seasons, extend the unit to explore the instrumental role the sun plays in fueling food webs, starting with producers. This clip illustrates the influence of the sun on the seasonal abundance of plant matter produced on land and in our oceans. How do plants respond to seasonal changes in sunlight? Which areas of land and oceans are most productive at different times of the year, and why?

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Activity 3: Why Do Birds Migrate? (grades 6-10)

Why Do We Have Different Seasons? (3)

Your class is now comfortable using patterns to identify cause and effect relationships. Can they extend this one level up the food chain to predators? In this visualization, you’ll see how seasonal changes drive patterns in animal behavior. Track the movement of two migratory birds of prey—ospreys and turkey vultures—as they travel between North and South America over a single calendar year. Assist your students to make connections as to how populations of organisms are dependent on the living things on which they prey.

(Video) EARTH'S ROTATION & REVOLUTION | Why Do We Have Seasons? | The Dr Binocs Show | Peekaboo Kidz
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Connections to Standards

Next Generation Science StandardsDisciplinary Core Ideas for 3-Video Series

  • ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars
    • (6-8)Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.
  • ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System
    • (5)The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around the Earth, togetherwith the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year.
    • (6-8)Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.
  • LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
    • (6-8)Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen.
    • (9-12)The process of photosynthesis converts light energy to stored chemical energy by converting carbon dioxide plus water into sugars plus released oxygen.
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems:
    • (6-8)Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.
    • (6-8)In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction.
  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life:
    • ​(5)The energy released [from] food was once energy from the sun that was captured by plants in the chemical process that forms plant matter (from air and water).
    • (6-8)The chemical reaction by which plants produce complex food molecules (sugars) requires an energy input (i.e., from sunlight) to occur. In this reaction, carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbon-based organic molecules and release oxygen. Cellular respiration in plants and animals involve chemical reactions with oxygen that release stored energy. In these processes, complex molecules containing carbon react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and other materials.
    • (9-12)The main way that solar energy is captured and stored on Earth is through the complex chemical process known as photosynthesis.

California's Environmental Principles and Concepts

  • Principle III: Natural systems proceed through cycles that humans depend upon, benefit from, and can alter.
    • Concept a: Students need to know that natural systems proceed through cycles and processes that are required for their functioning.

Vocabulary for Students

  • carbon dioxide:a colorless, odorless gas that is present in the atmosphere, formed during respiration, produced during organic decomposition, used by plants in photosynthesis, and formed when any fuel containing carbon is burned
  • orbit:the path described by one celestial body in its revolution about another
  • orbital period: the time taken for a given object to make one complete orbit about another object; the Earth takes 365 days to orbit the sun.
  • photosynthesis:the process by which a cell captures energy in sunlight and uses it to make food
  • primary producer:an organism, such as a plant, that can make its own food
(Video) Seasons

How Have Teachers Used this Video Clip?

Why Do We Have Different Seasons? (4)

"The video about why we have different seasons is fantastic, and I will use it along with the Kinesthetic astronomy unit when I teach about the Sun-Earth system, why we have seasons, and how the sun drives the water cycle/ provides energy to drive seasons/ etc."-6th Grade Science Teacher from Stockton, CA

"I would love to use some of the videos and guiding questions as a way to provide connections to real-world phenomenon." -High School Life and Physical Science Student Teacher from Berkeley, CA

Have an idea you'd like us to post on this page? Email us.

Visualizations based on aggregated data provide the unique opportunity to engage your students in various Science Practices highlighted in the Next Generation Science Standards, including asking questions, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing explanations. As an example, Academy educators developed sample activities such as this one and this one.

Recommended Resources

Astronomy Activities
You'd be surprised by how much astronomy you can learn with a light source, some painter's tape, and a can of play doh. This collection features nine of our most popular activities.

Why do we have seasons?
This NASA webpage addresses the misconception that the distance of the Earth and the Sun is the reason for the seasons and explains the Earth’s tilt is the true reason.

Seasons Interactive
This interactive will help students recognize the reason for the seasons as they manipulate time and the Earth’s tilt.

The Reason for the Seasons
This website gives background information of why we have seasons and visualizes the angle of sunlight one of the reason of the seasons.

Earth’s Orbit around the Sun
This Universe Update article provides background information on the orbital mechanics of the Earth-Sun system and how that contributes to why we have seasons.

(Video) Reasons for the seasons - Rebecca Kaplan

Data Sources

Phytoplankton Bloom Imagery
NASA Modis

Land Productivity Data
NASA Modis Land Science Team, NASA Earth Observatory Team

Reto Stockli

Ocean Productivity Data
Michael Behrenfeld, Professor Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, www.science.oregonstate.edu/oceanproductivity

Earth Imagery
NASA Visible Earth


Why do we have different seasons in different? ›

Earth's tilted axis causes the seasons. Throughout the year, different parts of Earth receive the Sun's most direct rays. So, when the North Pole tilts toward the Sun, it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere. And when the South Pole tilts toward the Sun, it's winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Have you ever wondered why we have different seasons? ›

Did you know that our four seasons exist because of the tilt of the earth on its axis and because of the earth's orbit around the sun? The manner in which this factor produces our seasons is very easy to explain.

Why do we have seasons select the best answer quizlet? ›

We have seasons because Earth is tilted 23 1/2 degrees from a line perpendicular to its orbit, the length of daylight varies and because of the angle at which the sun's energy strikes a given location through the year.

How do you explain seasons to a child? ›

Seasons are caused because of the Earth's changing relationship to the Sun. The Earth travels around the Sun, called an orbit, once a year or every 365 days. As the Earth orbits the Sun, the amount of sunlight each location on the planet gets every day changes slightly. This change causes the seasons.

How are the 4 seasons different from each other? ›

In spring, the weather begins to get warmer and trees and other plants grow new leaves. Summer is the hottest season and has long, usually sunny, days. In the fall, the weather becomes mild and leaves start falling from many types of trees. Winter is the coldest season, with short days.

How are seasons defined? ›

The natural rotation of Earth around the sun forms the basis for the astronomical calendar, in which we define seasons with two solstices and two equinoxes. Earth's tilt and the sun's alignment over the equator determine both the solstices and equinoxes.

What are 3 reasons why the seasons change? ›

What causes the seasons? Well, it is caused by the movement of the Earth around the sun, the tilt of the Earth, and how high the sun will get in the sky.

What would happen if we didn't have different seasons? ›

Scientists think an Earth without a tilt would be stratified into climate bands that would get progressively colder as you moved away from the equator. Humans would never survive the continuous winter of the high latitudes, and so we would likely congregate in the planet's tropical midsection.

What are 5 facts about seasons? ›

The 4 Seasons Facts
  • Spring, summer, autumn, and winter are the four seasons. ...
  • The tilt of the Earth's axis causes the seasons to change. ...
  • The Earth's distance from the sun does not significantly affect the seasons. ...
  • The seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres are reversed. ...
  • The equinoxes occur twice a year.
Apr 15, 2023

Which of the following best describes why we have seasons on Earth? ›

Explanation: The seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth's rotational axis away or toward the sun as it travels through its year-long path around the sun. The Earth has a tilt of 23.5 degrees relative to the "ecliptic plane" (the imaginary surface formed by it's almost-circular path around the sun).

Why having four seasons is the best? ›

A four-season climate has the benefit of more types of activities. Each season offers a different group of sports to play as well as different hobby activities. The variety of weather changes makes a four-season climate interesting.

Which season is the best why? ›

Summer, winter, and fall may have their fans, but spring is clearly the best season. Even science agrees!

What is a simple sentence about seasons? ›

Noun I enjoy watching the seasons change every year. These plants have a short growing season. Deer season starts next week.

Are seasons the same everywhere? ›

Seasons happen at different times in different parts of the world. The tilt of the Earth doesn't change as it rotates around the Sun. But the part of the planet that gets the most direct sunlight does change. The Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun from September to March.

Do the seasons change everywhere? ›

The four-season year is typical only in the mid-latitudes. The mid-latitudes are places that are neither near the poles nor near the Equator. The farther north you go, the bigger the differences in the seasons.

What are the 7 types of seasons? ›

These seasons include Vasant Ritu (Spring), Grishma Ritu (Summer), Varsha Ritu (Monsoon), Sharad Ritu (Autumn), Hemant Ritu (Pre-Winter) and Shishir Ritu (Winter).

What is the best season of the year? ›

According to new Morning Consult data, the answer is clear — it's fall. When prompted to identify their favorite season, 41% of U.S. adults chose fall. Spring and summer each received 24% of the total favorite vote, while only 11% of respondents said winter is their season of choice.

When did seasons become a thing? ›

In 1780 the Societas Meteorologica Palatina (which became defunct in 1795), an early international organization for meteorology, defined seasons as groupings of three whole months as identified by the Gregorian calendar. Ever since, professional meteorologists all over the world have used this definition.

What season starts first? ›

According to this definition, each season begins on the first of a particular month and lasts for three months: Spring begins on March 1, summer on June 1, autumn on September 1, and winter on December 1.

Why does winter start so late? ›

Because the Earth doesn't take exactly 365 days to travel around the Sun each year, the days that equinoxes and solstices fall on vary slightly year-to-year. Still, they typically take place around March 21 (spring equinox), June 21 (summer solstice), September 22 (autumnal equinox), and December 22 (winter solstice).

What are the 5 causes of seasons? ›

The reasons for the Earth experiencing seasons are revolution, rotation, tilt, axial parallelism, and sphericity – yikes! and I thought it had only to do with the tilt of the Earth!

What is the change of seasons called? ›

Four times a year, the season officially changes. And each change is marked by a specific point known as an equinox or a solstice. One term is used for the transition from winter to spring and summer to fall, and one is used for the switch from spring to summer and fall to winter.

Does changing seasons affect humans? ›

Seasonal changes in precipitation and temperature affect soil moisture, evaporation rates, river flows, lake levels, and snow cover. Leaves fall and plants wither as cold and dry seasons approach. These changes in vegetation affect the type and amount of food available for humans and other organisms.

Do we need seasons to survive? ›

Without Earth's tilt, humanity would be in a sorry state. Forget modern technology, the steam engine, or sliced bread. In a world without seasons, there wouldn't even be wheat.

Would the Earth not have seasons if it? ›

If earth did not tilt and orbited in an upright position around the sun, there would be minor variations in temperatures and precipitation throughout each year as Earth moves slightly closer and farther away from the sun. Basically, we would not have any seasons.

What would Earth look like without seasons? ›

We would still have different weather conditions across the face of the Earth, but at any point on the surface the weather would always be the same (no more seasons!). The regions near the equator would enjoy a constant, steady level of sunlight, much as they do today.

What's the longest season? ›

Summer begins when the sun reaches the summer solstice in Taurus and ends when the sun reaches the autumnal equinox in Virgo. It is the longest season, lasting 94 days.

What are two facts that cause seasons? ›

Remind students that the two reasons seasons occur are the tilt of a planet's axis and its orbit around the sun.

Who discovered seasons? ›

The Earth's rotation axis slowly wobbles or precesses about the Ecliptic Pole. Amounts to ~50"/year, or 1 degree in 72 years. Discovered by Hipparchus of Nicaea (c. 150BC), but may have been known to the Babylonians.

What is the top of the sky called? ›

The top of that dome, the point directly above your head, is called the zenith, and where the dome meets Earth is called the horizon.

Which describes why some seasons are hotter than others? ›

The tilt of the Earth's AXIS is the most important reason why seasons occur. We have hot summers and cold winters because of the tilt of the Earth's axis. The tilt of the Earth means the Earth will lean towards the Sun (Summer) or lean away from the Sun (Winter) 6 months later.

What has seasons like the Earth? ›

The planet with seasons most comparable to ours, unsurprisingly, is Mars, which has a similar axial tilt to Earth.

What is the biblical meaning of seasons? ›

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV. Ecclesiastes gives us many examples of seasons we'll face in life: times of birth, death, weeping and joy. The Bible shows us that experiencing good and bad times in our lives is normal and to be expected.

How does each season relate to mans life? ›

Spring is when new leaves grow, it is like the birth of a man. Summer is the youth of a man, where his life is young and bright, like the sunny weather. Autumn is the old age, where man starts to wither, and winter is finally death, where man fades away.

Which season we like the most? ›

Summers make us truly appreciate and savour a lot of things. During the summer season, we get holidays for a long time.

Which season is healthy? ›

Winter is the season to boost immune system and nurture our body. Eating nourished warm food, sleeping well and staying active are some important aspects to keep one healthy during winters.

What season is best for your health? ›

Spring break and summer vacation

Time away from the daily grind helps your heart, mental health and stress levels, according to research. If you're vacationing this summer, spring might be a happier season as well.

What is a good sentence for seasonal? ›

The rise in gas prices is seasonal. The store hires seasonal workers during the holidays.

What are seasons for grade 1? ›

The Four Seasons
  • Winter happens in December, January, and February.
  • Spring happens in March, April, and May.
  • Summer happens in June, July, and August.
  • Fall happens in September, October, and November.

Why are the seasons important? ›

Learning about the seasons helps children understand the passage of time and teaches them about change. While some seasonal changes are more obvious (like changes in the weather), there are many important subtle differences related to each season, like changes in the type of food that is available.

Do the seasons change every year? ›

The Short Answer:

Earth's tilted axis causes the seasons. Throughout the year, different parts of Earth receive the Sun's most direct rays. So, when the North Pole tilts toward the Sun, it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere. And when the South Pole tilts toward the Sun, it's winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Why is summer better than winter? ›

Because there is so much more daylight in the spring and summer months, there is more time in the sun to go for walks, relax outside or get ice cream with friends. The vitamin D people can get from spending outside provides one with many health benefits. It can also help improve mental health and seasonal depression.

How do you explain to a child why we have seasons? ›

The Earth has a tilt.

The Earth sits on a slight tilt of about 23.5 degrees. Because of this tilt, different areas of the world are hit with more (or less) sunlight and warmth than others throughout the year. These changes in weather are broken up into four seasons: summer, fall, winter and spring.

What is 4 seasons known for? ›

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is one of the most renowned international luxury hotel brands in the world. With such an incredible brand value, Four Seasons has always been and continues to be a favorite luxury brand for the world's wealthiest travelers, professional athletes, and business travelers alike.

Are the seasons the same everywhere on Earth? ›

The seasons in the Northern Hemisphere are the opposite of those in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that in Argentina and Australia, winter begins in June. The winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is June 20 or 21, while the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is December 21 or 22.

Why are the seasons opposite of our seasons? ›

Regardless of the time of year, the northern and southern hemispheres always experience opposite seasons. This is because during summer or winter, one part of the planet is more directly exposed to the rays of the Sun than the other, and this exposure alternates as the Earth revolves in its orbit.

Why aren t the seasons the same at the same time all year in the north and south hemisphere? ›

Seasons are caused by the fact that the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5°. The tilt's orientation with respect to space does not change during the year; thus, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun in June and away from the sun in December, as illustrated in the graphic below.

Why are some seasons longer than others? ›

Because the Earth's orbit is not a perfect circle, the seasons differ in length. The mark on the orbital path just to the left of the Earth indicates the Earth's closest approach to the sun, which occurs in January. When the Earth is closest to the sun, it is moving fastest, so winter is the shortest season.

Is there a place on Earth without seasons? ›

every location on Earth is subject to seasons. You'd have to go to Venus to avoid them.

Do humans change with seasons? ›

On a scientific level, this is due to the fact that, during the seasonal change between late summer and early fall, our bodies increase their insulin resistance. This causes our livers to increase fat production so that we can store fat in our tissues and be better prepared for the winter.

Would we have seasons if the Earth was not tilted? ›

If earth did not tilt and orbited in an upright position around the sun, there would be minor variations in temperatures and precipitation throughout each year as Earth moves slightly closer and farther away from the sun. Basically, we would not have any seasons.

Are seasons opposite in Africa? ›

Remember that most of sub-Saharan Africa lies in the Southern Hemisphere so their seasons are the opposite of the northern hemisphere. June/July is winter and November/December is the peak of summer.

Is the Earth tilted to the right or left? ›

With reference to the North Pole, Earth's axis is tilted to the right (east direction). It is tilted at 23.4 degrees relative to the orbital or ecliptic plane.

What is the longest day of winter? ›

The December solstice can be on December 20, 21, 22, or 23. December 21 or 22 solstices happen more often than December 20 and 23 solstices. The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and the next one is in 2303. A December 20 solstice is also rare, with the next one in the year 2080.

What is the longest season in the US? ›

Answer and Explanation: Summer has the longest days.

Which is the best season of the year? ›

Every season gives us cause to celebrate, but here are 10 reasons why spring is the best season.
  1. Warmer weather. ...
  2. There are more hours in the day. ...
  3. More sunshine. ...
  4. Birds and animals emerge. ...
  5. Delicious seasonal produce. ...
  6. Time for spring cleaning and organizing. ...
  7. Blooming flowers everywhere. ...
  8. Trees grow leaves again.
May 4, 2022

Does the Earth move faster in winter or summer? ›

Earth's rotation also varies seasonally, speeding up in the summer months of the northern hemisphere and slowing down in winter. That's because the Earth's orbit takes it slightly farther from the sun in summer and slightly closer in winter.


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