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Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

What is a solstice?

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol – sun and sistere – to stand still; at the solstices, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction. June 21st is the Summer Solstice and December 21st is the Winter Solstice. June 21st is the longest day and December 21st is the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere.

Why are the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn important?

The word Tropic comes from the Greek word Tropos, meaning turn; referring to the fact that the sun appears to turn back at the solstices. The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are the two most important latitude lines made, apart from the equator.

They match the orientation of the Earth’s rotational axis to the ecliptical plane around the sun.

These are the latitudes at which the sun’s rays hit the Earth’s surface at a right angle both during Summer and Winter Solstice. At the start of winter in the northern hemisphere the sun’s rays are only hitting the Earth’s surface at a right angle (meaning the sun is directly overhead) at the Tropic of Capricorn. During the northern hemisphere’s summer the sun is directly overhead if you were standing at the Tropic of Cancer.

What is the Tropic of Cancer?

Also known as the Northern Tropic, the Tropic of Cancer is the parallel latitude that lies 23 degrees and 26′ north of the Equator. This is the exact location where the Sun is overhead on June 21st known as the June solstice. The location has been shifting and will keep changing over the years by a few minutes.

It is the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of winters in the Southern hemisphere. North of the Tropic of Cancer is the subtropics and the Northern Temperate Zones. South of the Tropic of Cancer are the Tropics. This area does not experience distinctly changing seasons because the sun is always high in the sky.

Which countries, continents and water bodies lie along the Tropic of Cancer?

There are 16 countries, 3 continents and 6 water bodies that the Tropic of Cancer passes through.
Continents : North America, Africa and Asia
Countries: Mexico, Bahamas (Archipelago), Niger, Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Western Sahara, Myanmar, Oman, Bangladesh, India, Saudi Arabia, China, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Taiwan.
Water bodies: Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Taiwan Strait, Red Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

What is the Tropic of Capricorn?

Also known as the Southern Tropic, the Tropic of Capricorn lies 23 degrees 5′ south of the Equator. It is the farthest southern latitude at which the sun can reach or appear directly overhead. North of this latitude are the Tropics and below the Tropic of Capricorn are the Southern Temperate Zones. The sun appears directly over this latitude during the winter solstice, when the sun was entering the zodiac sign of Capricorn. December 21st is the day of winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Which countries, continents and water bodies lie along the Tropic of Capricorn?

There are 10 countries, 3 continents and 3 water bodies that pass through the Tropic of Capricorn.
Continents: South America, Africa, Australia
Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar and Australia
Water Bodies: Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

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