Next, I used a Path Mate to describe the location of the earth on the orbit. Path Mate allows me to assign a percentage along the path [0% = Winter Solstice, 25% = Spring Equinox, 50% = Summer Solstice, 75% = Fall Equinox]. I made configurations of each of those values for easy switching. I also set up some camera views to see the effect better. With a “Pitch Black” background and PhotoView 360 rendering, it really brought the project to life for the kids and hopefully taught them a few lessons they will never forget!
Let’s take a look at the results:
First, an overall view of earth’s orbit. Remember, the tilt of the earth stays in the same orientation all year.
Now a closer look at the earth at each of the locations.
Spring Equinox (March 20th):
We can see that both the northern and southern hemispheres get the same amount of light.
Summer Solstice (June 20th):
We see that the northern hemisphere is in more direct sunlight. Therefore, it is summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.
Fall Equinox (September 22nd):
Looks very similar to the Spring Equinox.
Winter Solstice (December 21st):
We see that the southern hemisphere has more direct sunlight. Therefore, it is summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the northern hemisphere.
This proved to be a fun little project to share with the kids.
It used extremely simple geometry mixed with some neat SOLIDWORKS tools and taught them about the seasons. Eventually I might put a star field in the background and make some nicer renderings and videos, but for now, I have to get back to real work!
Thanks for reading, and as always, Happy Modeling!