How did ancient people explain inverted seasons on the other side of the equator?

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In the southern hemisphere, seasons are inverted compared to the northern hemisphere. Before the current knowledge that this is caused by Earth’s tilt compared to its rotation around the sun, how did people explain this?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Generally by the time people could travel so far across the ocean this effect could be noticed, they had a pretty sound foundation in astronomy. They would notice things like, “Whoa, I see different stars here” and reasoned that probably has something to do with why the seasons are different.

The Greeks figured out axial tilt somewhere around 480 BC. I’m having a hard time finding great information about sea routes at the time, but when I do look at ancient maritime routes most cultures stuck to their own continents. Leif Erikson’s landing in North America is somewhere around 1000 CE (That’s not across hemispheres, but is a similarly challenging distance to travel.) I can’t find anything about European contact with South America before the 1400s.

The more I look the harder it is to find that people had good contact with cultures this far away until the past 1,000 years, when astronomy was already sufficiently well-understood to explain it. You don’t have to come up with explanations for things you haven’t witnessed!

Keep in mind you have to move from VERY far north to VERY far south or vice versa to really see this. A ton of early human civilization happened in the “middle” or “north” without venturing between “north” and “south” regularly because it’s an incredible distance to travel without sea travel sophisticated enough to understand what you need to know to figure out why the seasons are different.

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