2081: Middle Latitudes
Title text: Snowy blizzards are fun, but so are warm sunny beaches, so we split the difference by having lots of icy wet slush!
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by WINTER WHILE GETTING A SUNTAN. Need much more details on why it's bleak in the Winter in the middle. Also explain the title text Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
The Earth can be divided into five major circles of latitude, from North to South:
- Arctic Circle (66°33′N)
- Tropic of Cancer ((23°26′N)
- Equator (0°)
- Tropic of Capricorn ((23°26′S)
- Antarctic Circle (66°33′S)
The middle latitudes are those that occur in two specific bands: between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer, and between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle. These are two important pairs of latitudes on the globe that delineate some features of how the Sun rises and sets during the day.
At latitudes which are either north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle, there is at least one day every summer when the sun doesn't set and at least one day every winter when it doesn't rise. Below that latitude, the sun will rise and set every day - if only for a short time. At any latitudes between the Tropics, including the equator, there is at least one day of the year where the sun will shine directly from above. The length of the day between the tropics will also be close to 12 hours regardless of whether it is Summer or Winter. At the tropics the maximum day/night is about 13.5 hours and the minimum is 10.5 hours. At the equator, which is midway between the tropics, days and nights are always 12 hours with minor changes due to the equation of time (a combination of effects from Earth's axial tilt and slightly eccentric orbit).
At latitudes between 23.5 and 66.5, north or south, there will be no such "special" days, as the sun will always shine from an angle and always be above the horizon for part of the day and below it for the rest. In the Winter days are shorter, while in the Summer days are longer. These changes are more visible the farther one gets away from the equator, and close to the Arctic the sun will only rise for a few hours in the Winter, and similarly will only set for a few hours in the Summer.
The comic refers to these facts that inside the middle latitudes there are simply no interesting features at any time of the year, however in Winter the sun will set earlier, and generally because of the lower temperatures and shorter days it has a bleak feeling.
The comic also plays on the idiom "split the difference" by applying it to the length of day vs. night. To split the difference is to agree (or settle) on an amount of something, such as money, that is halfway between two others. This can sometimes be characterized as a compromise where nobody gets what they want.
Cueball starts by wishing to experience two extremes: normal sunrise and sunset, vs. weeks of 24-hour darkness. Satisfying one or the other condition requires locating either to the Equator or to one of the poles. Megan proposes a "split the difference" compromise, which turns out to involve dim, bleak winters. Satisfying the compromise would mean locating in the "middle latitudes". Thus the bottom caption, "middle latitudes are the worst."
The title text extends the idea. Splitting the difference between "fun" snowy blizzards and "fun" warm sunny beaches would mean having neither, but instead icy wet slush.
There are other comics that refer to the length of the day, and how it is different each day, a recent one for example is 2050: 6/6 Time.
- [Cueball and Megan standing and talking, Megan with her arms raised.]
- Cueball: It would be nice if the sun could rise and set at normal times. But it would also be cool to experience 24-hour darkness for weeks on end.
- Megan: Well, what if we split the difference, so all winter everything was normal but slightly more dim and bleak?
- Cueball: Perfect!
- [Caption below the frame:]
- Middle latitudes are the worst.
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