MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Earth's axial tilt and tropics. Illustration of the Earth with its axis of rotation, its axial tilt, and its tropic circles of latitude (white lines). The Earth's axis of rotation (red line and circular arrow) is tilted by 23.5 degrees (black arrow) from the vertical (dotted white line) relative to the planet's plane of orbit around the Sun (sunlight from left). This axial tilt gives rise to the Earth's seasons as it orbits the Sun. The equator (red line) divides the Earth into northern and southern hemispheres. The Northern Tropic (the Tropic of Cancer) is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. The corresponding circle of latitude in the southern hemisphere is the Southern Tropic (the Tropic of Capricorn).
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