Weather Fundamentals

The Seasons

What is orbital inclination

Not only does our planet tilt back and forth and wobble while it’s doing it, but it also ranges up and down relative to the invariable plane (the plane, in simplified terms, passing through the solar system’s center of mass). If you imagine the Earth’s orbit as forming a disk like a CD, then imagine the CD wobbling back and forth instead of spinning on a level plane (formed by the invariable plane), then you might get the idea of orbital inclination. The current orbital inclination of the Earth causes it to pass through the invariable plane in early January and early July. The invariable plane carries with it more space dust and debris than is found above and below this plane; thus, as the Earth passes through the invariable plane, the atmosphere comes in contact with more space dust, which means we see more meteor showers and meteorites. The space dust also contributes to cloud formation in the upper atmosphere: noctilucent clouds.


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