Why do we have seasons on Earth?

Yesterday we experienced a shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The December solstice happens every year around December, 21st. This made me want to think about why do we seasons on Earth? In theory we all know it but in practice you might want to refresh you basic geographic knowledge…

We experience seasons because our planet rotates on an axis that is tilted by 23.5 degrees in its orbit. The Earth orbits around the sun every 365.256 days. This tilt makes northern hemisphere to be closer and more exposed to the sun for half of the time and southern hemisphere for another half.

What is the key to understand this phenomena is that over the course of a year, the angle does not change so Earth’s axis is always pointing the same direction in space. But as we orbit the sun the orientation of Earth’s tilt with respect to the sun changes.

Some may argue that the seasons are also influenced by the fact that Earth distance from the sun does change throughout the year. But in the case of our planet the change is too small to cause it.

If the idea is still a bit blurry you might want to watch this video:

With that we send greetings to all the Flat Earthers on your round planet.

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Google Maps adds wheelchair accessibility and it’s one of the most important updates ever

Moving from A to B on a wheelchair is a challenge on many different levels. One of them is lack of data about wheelchair accessibility which is needed to select a venue and to choose the optimal route to reach it.

While wheelchair-friendly routing still requires browsing StreetView looking for ramps and searching for any barriers, the information about whether a venue is wheelchair accessible shouldn’t be a problem. In theory… In practice gathering such a data, as it didn’t bring too much of a business value, had typically fairly low priority for big mapping companies. There is a crowd-sourced mapping service called Wheelmap and until recently that was it. No more data sources.

But Google’s employees decided to change it and with a recent update to Google Maps, the service now mentions wheelchair accessibility when it’s available. The data comes from the Local Guides program which rewards users for adding reviews, photos and new POIs by giving them points and by granting them access to beta features and gifting extra Google Drive storage for free.

Users provided enough answers about accessibility that this information will be now displayed on a business page of a given location. For now the update will be available only in the US but once data are gathered we can expect roll out in other countries.

The update is an effect of the famous Google’s 20% projects which allows employees to spend 20 per cent of their time on whatever project they want. This time it’s a really useful and needed feature. Maybe it’s even one of the most important updates ever. It shows that making maps is not all about business but also about social responsibility and we hope to see more projects like that across the industry.


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