Theories abound as to why our seasons turn the way they do, but few can agree on the root cause. While human influence has surely shaped our four seasons, perhaps an even greater impact comes from our closest cosmic neighbors – the Sun and the Moon. As the seasons change, so do the Moon’s tectonic activity and atmospheric movements which in turn affect us here on Earth. Could it be that the phases of the Moon have something to do with the temperature variations we experience during the year? Let’s explore the celestial bodies and how they might affect the seasons on Earth.
The Sun: Friend or Foe?
It’s commonly accepted that the Sun is the center of our solar system and the driving force behind our seasons. It has a profound impact on our lives, as we rely on it for life on Earth. At the same time, we know that the Sun is a dangerous adversary – scorching Earth with radiation and fierce heat. During the day, we are grateful for its radiance – whether it is gentle or strong depends largely on the time of day and location of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun.
While the exact causes of the seasons are unknown, several theories exist. One of the more accepted reasons for the four seasons is the movement of the Earth around the Sun in an orbit that creates the seasons. As the Earth migrates across the sky, its distance to the Sun varies causing the seasons to shift. When the Earth is closest to the Sun, it is plunged into darkness and cold. As it moves away, the temperature rises and more seasons turn to spring.
The Moon: A Closer Look
Located in space between the Earth and the Sun, the Moon is the natural satellite that orbits our planet. It is the second-largest natural satellite in our solar system, and the fourth-largest in the entire cosmos. The Moon’s gravitational pull is believed to be responsible for the Earth’s seasons. Just as the Earth’s distance from the Sun determines our seasons, the Moon’s distance from the Sun determines its cycle of phases. It takes approximately 27 days for the Moon to orbit Earth, which equals one lunar phase or quarter.*
During the day, the temperature on the Moon can reach 40 °C (104 °F), which is similar to the Sun’s temperature. However, the temperature declines precipitously at night as there is not enough sunlight for the day/night heat balance. As a result, the surface of the Moon is frozen solid in the coldest season and is shrouded in darkness in the hottest season. This naturally alternating pattern of warm and cold temperatures creates the annual cycle of seasons on Earth.
While it is commonly accepted that the Moon affects our seasons, it is worth noting that a similar phenomenon occurs on Io, the largest of the moons of Jupiter. Like the Earth, Io has four seasons, though they last for more than a year. If you think that the Moon is behind the seasonal changes on Earth, then you might be surprised to learn that it is Jupiter that is the real culprit, and not the Moon. The immense gravity of Jupiter is believed to be the reason why the Moon’s gravitational pull is so influential in shaping the Earth’s seasons. This is because the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not nearly as influenced by Jupiter as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is. Thus, the phases of the Moon will not change as drastically as we could see on Earth. This is because there is not enough sunlight for the Moon’s orbit around Jupiter to create noticeable temperature variations. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon#Seasonal_phenomena)
What About The Air?
We can’t forget about the air, as it is the medium by which we live and are surrounded by the smell of nature – whether it is pleasant or not. In addition to this, the air also serves a vital purpose in regulating the temperature of our atmosphere. The movement of air currents towards lower pressure regions causes the even keeling of the atmospheric pressure, which in turn impacts the weather on Earth. So, while the air is undoubtedly influential in creating our seasons, it is important to remember that its role is largely technical and passive.
In summary, our seasons are greatly impacted by the Sun and the Moon. It is generally accepted that the Moon’s phases play a crucial role in setting Earth’s seasons, and temperature plays a part as well. As the Earth orbits the Sun in an elliptic pattern, its distance varies creating the seasons. The atmosphere allows for passive temperature regulation by allowing heat to escape in high pressure zones and cold air to flow in from lower pressure regions.