Difference Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 02, 2023

       

Difference Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn

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​​​​​​​Introduction

The latitudes define Earth’s climate and seasons. Generally, these latitudes play a crucial role in determining the temperature. The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are two significant latitudes that lie on Earth's surface.

Both the latitudes are equidistant from the equator in the opposite direction, which marks the northernmost point and southernmost point.

The Tropic of Cancer vs. the Tropic of Capricorn

In the northmost region on Earth’s surface lies the Tropic of Cancer, which is 23.5 degrees to the north of the equator, whereas the Tropic of Capricorn lies at 23.5 degrees to the south of the equator, where the sun appears directly overhead at least once a year.

Difference Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in Tabular Form

Basis of comparisonTropic of CancerTropic of Capricorn
LatitudeIt is approximately 23.5 degrees northIt is approximately 23.5 degrees south
LocationIt lies in the Northern hemisphereIt lies in the Southernhemisphere
Summer SolsticeJune 21st marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere.December 21st marks the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere.
Winter SolsticeIt occurs on December 21st and marks the beginning of winter.Occurs on June 21st and marks the beginning of winter.
Sun PositionDirectly overhead during the Northern Hemisphere summerDirectly overhead during the Southern Hemisphere summer
CountryPasses through Mexico, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia and ChinaPasses through Argentina, Australia, South Africa, and the southern Pacific Ocean.

What is the Tropic of Cancer?

Before knowing what the tropic of Cancer is, it's important to understand latitudes and longitudes. Latitude and Longitude determine the coordinates of the point on the Earth's surface.

They are important for locating a point, navigation, GPS system, and other various applications.

Latitude measures the distance of a location from north or south of the equator. The equator lies at the 0-degree latitude, and the north pole and the south pole are at 90 degrees north and south, respectively, from the equator. At the same time, the Longitude measures the distance of a location from east or west of the Prime Meridian, which is an imaginary line that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole. The Prime Meridian is at 0-degree Longitude and is the starting point.

The imaginary line of latitude on the Earth's surface located at 23.5 degrees north of the equator is called the Tropic of Cancer. It is situated in the northern hemisphere. The word "tropic" is derived from the Greek word "Tropos" meaning change, which refers to the changing position of the sun, and the word "cancer" originates from the zodiac sign "cancer" as it was situated in the constellation of Cancer.

The Tropic of Cancer is one of the five major latitudes, including the equator, the Arctic Circle, the Antarctic Circle, and the Tropic of Capricorn.

Summer Solstice

On June 21st of every year, the sun reaches its highest point and marks the beginning of summer in the hemisphere; this is called the summer solstice. This is the longest day of the year with the most daylight hours. It is the most significant feature, and it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer.

Climate

The climate along the Tropic of Cancer is usually hot and dry due to its proximity to the equator. But it does experience some seasonal changes of wet and dry seasons. The monsoon season brings heavy rainfall, which helps in agriculture and water storage. This diverse climate supports lush vegetation, providing habitats for plants and animals. Sometimes, heavy rainfall or cyclones can bring destruction, harming life and destroying the environment.

Celestial Movement

The sun's movement across the sky throughout the year is critical for the tropic of Cancer.

During the summer, the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer, making the climate hot and dry, and the locations experience the longest day, whereas in the winter, the sun is above the Tropic of Capricorn, and the north location experiences the shortest day of the year.

Changing Positions

Due to factors like the Earth's axial precession, which is a slight wobble in the Earth's alignment, the position of the tropic of Cancer is not fixed, and it slightly changes its position over time.

What is the Tropic of Capricorn?

One of the five major latitudes in the Tropic of Cancer is the Arctic Circle, the equator, and the Antarctic Circle. It is the southernmost latitude and lies 23.5 degrees south of the equator.

It passes through several countries and regions, including parts of South America, Southern Africa, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean.

It was named when the sun was in the constellation Capricornus at the December solstice.

On 21st December, the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn and reaches the southernmost decline. However, due to the change in the position of the Earth's axis, it now appears in the constellation Sagittarius, but in a few years, it will again reappear in the constellation Capricornus.

Summer Solstice

On December 21st, the sun is directly over the tropic of Capricorn, resulting in the longest day of the year, and it marks the beginning of the summer in the southern hemisphere.

December Solstice

The shortest day in the southern hemisphere is marked when the sun is directly over the tropic of Cancer, and it officially starts winter.

Climate

The climate along the Tropic of Capricorn is usually hot and dry due to its proximity to the equator. But it does experience some seasonal changes of wet and dry seasons. The monsoon season brings heavy rainfall, which helps in agriculture and water storage. This diverse climate supports lush vegetation, providing habitats for plants and animals. Sometimes, heavy rainfall or cyclones can bring destruction, harming life and destroying the environment. It is usually humid during the wet seasons.

Position Change

Like the tropic of Cancer, the position of the tropic of Capricorn changes due to changes in the Earth's axis.

Significance

The tropic of Capricorn has great significance as it serves as the reference point in determining the boundaries and influences the settlement of human life.

Main Differences Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in Points

  • The Tropic of Cancer lies at 23.5 degrees north of the equator, whereas the Tropic of Capricorn lies at 23.5 degrees south of the equator.
  •  The Tropic of Cancer is in the northern hemisphere, while the Tropic of Capricorn is in the southern hemisphere.
  •  June 21 marks the beginning of summer's solstice in the northern hemisphere, whereas December 21 marks the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere.
  •  Generally, both experience warm-to-hot climate changes with distinct seasons.
  •  The tropic of Cancer passes through Mexico, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, and China, whereas the tropic of Capricorn passes through Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and the Southern Pacific Ocean.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn play a crucial role in determining the climate and seasons of the Earth. One lies at 23.5 degrees north of the equator, and the other lies at 23.5 south of the equator. The sun's movement between the two latitudes influences the season, climate change, rainfall patterns, and habitats.

Also, they are extremely important in navigation for finding the exact location, geography, and astronomy. It supports a diverse ecosystem with distinct.


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"Difference Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-the-tropic-of-cancer-and-the-tropic-of-capricorn>.



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