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The Sun’s surprising movement across the sky - Gordon Williamson

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TEDEd Animation

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Suppose you placed a camera at a fixed position, took a picture of the sky at the same time every day for an entire year, and overlaid all of the photos on top of each other. What would the sun look like in that combined image? A stationary dot? A circular path? Neither. Oddly enough, it makes a ‘figure 8’ pattern, known as the Sun’s analemma. Gordon Williamson explains why.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

For some actual time-lapse photos of the analemma in various places across Earth’s surface, click here. Then, watch this quick video as an analemma over Edmonton, Canada is set to music. Awesome! The Astronomy Picture of The Day from NASA, also shows an analemma, but from Ukraine this time. What about the analemma on other planets? How about the Martian analemma? Check out this Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA: Opportunity’s Mars Analemma. What shape is it?

Stanford Solar Center has some great information on the analemma if you would like a bit more information. Medium’s article: Throwback Thursday: Earth’s Analemma is an informative 7-minute read on the analemma, seasons, and earth’s orbital shape that any person interested in astronomy and this topic should take a look at. Smithsonian Magazine also has an article on this topic: Using Only a Camera, Trace the Solar Analemma and Plot the Solstice.

Need a quick review on seasons? This TED-Ed Lesson might just have what you need: Reasons for the seasons.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Gordon Williamson
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Editor Franz Palomares
  • Animation Artist Josephine Mark
  • Composer Carlos Palomares
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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