Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn mark high noon

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Photo by: Tina Martin on Burst

On only two days of the year, the sun is directly overhead the Earth at noon.

Talay (Abigail) Valino, Staff writer

According to ThoughtCo, the Tropic of Cancer is a line of latitude that circles the earth at approximately 25.5 degrees north of the equator. The Tropic of Cancer is also the northernmost point on the earth which is where the sun’s rays are seen directly overhead of the local noon. It is significant to the earth’s geography because it marks the northern boundary of the tropics in which the region is extended from the north equator to the Tropic of Cancer and south to the Tropic of Capricorn.

Another thing from the article, some of the earth’s largest countries and cities are at or near the Tropic of Cancer. The Tropic of Cancer passes through more cities than the equivalent Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. Some examples of countries that the Tropic of Cancer passes through are India, China, and Saudi Arabia as well as the state of Hawaii. The naming of the Tropic of Cancer came from when the sun was pointed in the direction of the constellation Cancer. However, the name was assigned over 2,000 years ago and the sun is not in the constellation Cancer anymore.

ThoughtCo also tells that the Tropic of Capricorn is an imaginary line of latitude going around the earth at approximately 23.5 degrees south of the equator. The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost point on the earth which is where the sun’s rays can be directed overhead at local noon. The Tropic of Capricorn is significant to the earth’s amount of solar insolation and the creation of seasons. According to the article, solar insolation is the amount of earth’s direct exposure to the sun’s rays from incoming solar radiation.

Unlike the Tropic of Cancer which passes through many areas of land, the Tropic of Capricorn passes primarily through water in the Southern Hemisphere. Some examples of countries that the Tropic of Capricorn passes through are Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Australia. The Tropic of Capricorn is so named because the sun crossed into the constellation of Capricorn at the winter solstice around December 21 about 2,000 years ago. This resulted in the line of latitude being named the Tropic of Capricorn; however, it is no longer in the constellation Capricorn.

What makes these tropics important? According to Mocomi, it is the latitude lines made. Another thing that makes them so important is that they are the latitudes where the sun’s rays hit the earth’s surface at a right angle both during summer and winter solstice.