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What Causes Spring?

University City Patch is trying out a new column which takes a lighthearted but educational approach to science.

Spring has sprung here in St. Louis. It happened on Saturday March 20 at 6:21pm to be exact.

It’s the season for Cardinals baseball, concerts at the Verizon Amphitheater, trips to the Lake of the Ozarks, and of course, flip-flops.  Here at home it takes a few tries for spring to kick out winter. Tuesday it was 73 degrees: today we had flurries and wind chills in the 20’s.

“That’s St. Louis for you,” said Claudia Currie of Saint Charles, who also happens to be Jacqueline's mother.

Most people don’t know why the weather gets warmer. Perhaps they just don’t care and summer can’t come quickly enough for them. But for people who want know what actually causes spring, here's the answer.

When asked what caused spring, the resounding response was “The Earth is closer to the Sun” (The Earth is closest to the sun Jan 3). Some said “It has something to do with the tilt” (close enough). A few even said “Who cares!?!” The truth behind the matter does lie within the tilt of the Earth. You get half credit if you knew that. We all know the Earth revolves around the sun once every 365 days.  (Ok 365 ¼ days) During the first half of the year, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, so we get less direct sunlight and all those lovely snow days. For those that said “the Earth is closer to the Sun,” -  the Earth reaches Perihelion on Jan 3 or 4 each year. Perihelion is a really cool way of saying “closest to the sun.” During this time, we experience winter, while our friends Down Under enjoy summer. 

 So no, we are not closer to the Sun this time of year. As the year goes on, our little trip around the sun brings us to the point where our half of the hemisphere is tilted to the sun and  gets more direct sunlight. Presto!! The sun rises higher, we have longer days, and it is spring. That’s today’s “Science you Should Know but Probably Don’t”----Now you know!! 

Joy Eickmeier March 25, 2011 at 02:24 AM
What a great article ... and what a great concept. There are so many little pieces of science that we all should know but often don't. How about "why is the sky blue?" ... or keeping with the meteorology concept, "where does wind come from?"
Jacqueline-Maxine Harris March 25, 2011 at 10:42 AM
I think so too!!! If nothing else, you can look really smart when you tell people the truth behind the matter!!!! Hmmm why is the sky blue? I like it!
Jacqueline-Maxine Harris March 25, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Like I said... It takes a few tries for spring to come through!!!! Gotta love St. Louis!!!
Dan Carrion March 30, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Nice talking to you on the phone and great article on Spring. I...........Did.........not........know........that!

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