Summer or winter in Brazil

Does “summer” refer to the warmer season in every country, or does it refer to specific months (May-Sept)?

The seasons have reference to the position of the sun in relation to the earth. When it is summer in the northern hemisphere, it is winter in the southern, because the sun is lower there, and vice versa. The northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun in the summer and since there is less atmosphere, troposphere, stratosphere, etc. for the rays to penetrate, it is warmer than in the winter when the hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. And vice versa

true, but I think it has more to do with the Earth receiving more direct sunlight (more energy) in the summer (when the hemisphere is tilted toward the sun) than the more incidental sunlight (lower angle, less direct energy) in the winter.

Neither one of you answered the question, which is more about what the seasons are called. When it’s January in the U.S., and cold, we call it “winter.” When it’s January in Australia, and hot, do they call it “summer” or “winter”? And what do they call July in Australia, when it’s cold - “summer” or “winter”?

panache, barbitu answered the question correctly. When the Sun is over the Northern hemisphere and it is summer over here, it is winter in the Southern hemisphere.

I have always see a contradiction here: Rather than everybody around the globe use Universal Time, we prefer to keep local time. Each time zone keeps their own time and has to calculate the difference with other time zones.

If we followed this same logic when it is January in one hemisphere we should consider it is July in the other one. That or we all use UT but the present system makes no sense.

I vote we all go on UT.

Just to add a bit more. You will note that the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are both 23 1/2 degrees from the equator. Those are the furthest north and south that the sun will appear to an observer on Earth and that is also the degree of tilt of the Earth. That is no coincidence. When the northern hemisphere is tilted the most to the sun (at 23 1/2 degrees), the sun will appear 23 1/2 degress north of the equator (the Tropic of Cancer), and in the dead of winter it will be at the Tropic of Capricorn. (Vice versa for the southern hemisphere.)

And aren’t the normal seasonal terms pretty meaningless between the capricorns? Take for instance Brazil (it’s in the title isn’t it?), which is located around the equator. Don’t they refer to the seasons there as dry/wet and warm/cool?
I know that on the island of Mauritius (20 deg. south latitude, 500 miles east of Madagascar) the seasons are called warm & humid (November-April), cool & dry (June-September) and “in between” (May & October). You could label them as summer, winter, autumn and spring, but a 25-degree (77 F) average does not sound like “winter”.

Also, between the capricorns, the sun will be at its highest point TWICE in a year, as opposed to once a year for the higher latitudes. So, strictly speaking, you’d have two “summers”, and two “winters”. One of those “winters” would not be as “cold” as the other one, except of course on the equator, where the “winters” would be equal in terms of position of the sun at high noon.

I’m starting to confuse myself now.

And to show you just how confused I am, I’m using the word ‘capricorn’, when it should be TROPIC. Both times. Something just got lost in the translation. Sorry.

It’s probably best to review Unca Cece’s thoughts on this topic, because Our Cecil is a Jealous Cecil, and doesn’t like it when you leave him out of the discussion.

In his column from the original volume of The Straight Dope, Is it true summer in Ireland starts May 1?, Cecil noted that “summer” is whenever you have the warmest weather, so when it is summer in the northern hemisphere (United States, Europe, etc.) it is winter in the Southern hemisphere (Australia, etc.). However, even in the same hemisphere, different areas sometimes use slightly different periods which they describe as “summer months”.

Where I said tropic I meant tropical and where I said equinox I meant Thanksgiving. Due to landmass distribution Summer in the northern hemisphere is always offset by winter in the other hemisphere (and viceversa).

SkinnyGuy, Brazil is not “located around the equator”.

[butt-in] Er, ah, ahem … the Equator passes through Brazil. {/butt-in]

Take the poles (please). Now imagine how the sun looks to an observer on the N pole when it is summer there and it never sets. Apparently it makes loops around or near a horizon. (Every direction is south.) Or does it loop around all the horizon in one continuous path? Upon reflecting on this, it must do the latter. Then this elliptical path would slowly vanish past the horizon, with the longest sunset on Earth, before disappearing into the night. To arise again 6 months hence and begin its long, elliptical path once more. But prior to its reappearance, there would be the longest sunrise on Earth.

Is that right? Can someone draw me a diagram?

Sounds to me like you’ve got it, barbitu8. It’ll circle around the entire horizon, one circle every 24 hours, on a path that slowly moves up or down through the year. On the summer solstice, it’ll be 23.5 degrees above the horizon, and it’ll never get any higher than that.