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The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of
latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the ...

latitude
on
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
at which the
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...

Sun
can be
directly overhead
directly overhead
. This occurs on the
June solstice The June solstice is the solstice on the Earth that occurs each year falling on 20–22 June according to the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope G ...
, when the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent. It also reaches 90 degrees below the horizon at solar midnight on the
December Solstice The December solstice, also known as the southern solstice, is the that occurs each December – typically on 21 December, but may vary by one day in either direction according to the . In the , the December solstice is the (the day with the s ...
. Using a continuously updated formula, the circle is currently north of the
Equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...

Equator
. Its
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
counterpart, marking the most southerly position at which the Sun can be directly overhead, is the
Tropic of Capricorn The Tropic of Capricorn (or the Southern Tropic) is the that contains the at the December (or southern) . It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be seen directly overhead. It also reaches 90 degrees below the horizon at solar ...
. These tropics are two of the five major
circles of latitude The Mercator projection and its use on a world map. This projection first came into use in the 16th century by the Dutch. A circle of latitude or line of latitude on Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomi ...
that mark maps of Earth, the others being the
Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Danish Realm, ...

Arctic
and
Antarctic The Antarctic (US English or , UK English or and or ) is a around 's , opposite the region around the . The Antarctic comprises the continent of , the and other located on the or south of the . The Antarctic region includes the , wa ...

Antarctic
circles and the
Equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...

Equator
. The positions of these two circles of latitude (relative to the Equator) are dictated by the tilt of Earth's
axis of rotation Rotation around a fixed axis is a special case of rotation A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. The plane (geometry), geometric plane along which the rotation occurs is called the ''rotati ...
relative to the plane of its orbit, and since the tilt changes, the location of these two circles also changes.


Name

When this line of latitude was named in the last centuries BC, the Sun was in the
constellation A constellation is an area on the celestial sphere in which a group of visible stars forms a perceived outline or pattern, typically representing an animal, mythological person or creature, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest ...

constellation
Cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumor A benign tumor is a mass of cells Cell most often refers to: * Cell (biolo ...
(
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
for ''
crab Crabs are Decapoda, decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting "tail" (abdomen#Other animals, abdomen) ( el, :wikt:βραχύς, βραχύς , translit=brachys = short, / = tail), usually hid ...

crab
'') at the
June solstice The June solstice is the solstice on the Earth that occurs each year falling on 20–22 June according to the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope G ...
, the time each year that the Sun reaches its zenith at this latitude. Due to the
precession of the equinoxes In astronomy, axial precession is a gravity-induced, slow, and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body's Rotation around a fixed axis, rotational axis. In particular, it can refer to the gradual shift in the orientation of E ...
, this is no longer the case; today the Sun is in
Taurus Taurus is Latin for 'bull' and may refer to: * Taurus (constellation), one of the constellations of the zodiac * Taurus (mythology), one of two Greek mythological characters named Taurus * Taurus (astrology), the astrological sign * ''Bos taurus'' ...
at the June solstice. The word "tropic" itself comes from the Greek "trope (τροπή)", meaning turn (change of direction, or circumstances), inclination, referring to the fact that the Sun appears to "turn back" at the solstices.


Drift

The Tropic of Cancer's position is not fixed, but constantly changes because of a slight wobble in the Earth's longitudinal alignment relative to the
ecliptic The ecliptic is the plane (geometry), plane of Earth's orbit around the Sun. From the perspective of an observer on Earth, the Sun's movement around the celestial sphere over the course of a year traces out a path along the ecliptic against the ...

ecliptic
, the plane in which the Earth orbits around the Sun. Earth's axial tilt varies over a 41,000-year period from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees, and is about 23.4 degrees, which will continue to remain valid for about a
millennium A millennium (plural millennia or millenniums) is a period of one thousand year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the ...

millennium
. This wobble means that the Tropic of Cancer is currently drifting southward at a rate of almost half an arcsecond (0.468″) of latitude, or , per year. The circle's position was at exactly 23° 27′N in 1917 and will be at 23° 26'N in 2045. The distance between the
Antarctic Circle 350px, ''Map of the Antarctic with the Antarctic Circle in blue.'' The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the five major circle of latitude, circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. The region south of this circle is known as the An ...

Antarctic Circle
and the Tropic of Cancer is essentially constant as they move in tandem. This is based on an assumption of a constant equator, but the precise location of the equator is not truly fixed. See
equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...
,
axial tilt In , axial tilt, also known as obliquity, is the angle between an object's and its al axis, or, equivalently, the angle between its ial plane and . It differs from . At an obliquity of 0 degrees, the two axes point in the same direction; i.e., ...
and
circles of latitude The Mercator projection and its use on a world map. This projection first came into use in the 16th century by the Dutch. A circle of latitude or line of latitude on Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomi ...
for additional details.


Geography

North of the tropic are the
subtropics The subtropical zones or subtropics are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locat ...

subtropics
and the North Temperate Zone. The equivalent line of latitude south of the Equator is called the
Tropic of Capricorn The Tropic of Capricorn (or the Southern Tropic) is the that contains the at the December (or southern) . It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be seen directly overhead. It also reaches 90 degrees below the horizon at solar ...
, and the region between the two, centered on the Equator, is the
tropics The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% i ...

tropics
. In the year 2000, more than half of the world's population lived north of the Tropic of Cancer. There are approximately 13 hours, 35 minutes of daylight during the summer solstice. During the winter solstice, there are 10 hours, 41 minutes of daylight. Using 23°26'N for the Tropic of Cancer, the tropic passes through the following countries and territories starting at the
prime meridian#REDIRECT Prime meridian A prime meridian is the meridian (geography), meridian (a line of longitude) in a geographic coordinate system at which longitude is defined to be 0°. Together, a prime meridian and its anti-meridian (the 180th meridian ...

prime meridian
and heading eastward:


Climate

The climate at the Tropic of Cancer is generally hot and dry, except for cooler highland regions in China and easterly coastal areas, where orographic rainfall can be very heavy, in some places reaching annually. Most regions on the Tropic of Cancer experience two distinct seasons: an extremely hot summer with temperatures often reaching and a warm winter with maxima around . Much land on or near the Tropic of Cancer is part of the
Sahara Desert The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the . With an area of , it is the largest hot in the world and the third largest desert overall, smaller only than the deserts of and the northern . ...

Sahara Desert
, while to the east, the climate is torrid
monsoon A monsoon () is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric ph ...

monsoon
al with a short wet season from June to September, and very little rainfall for the rest of the year. The highest mountain on or adjacent to the Tropic of Cancer is
Yu Shan Yu Shan or Yushan, also known as Mount Jade, Jade Mountain, or , and known as Mount Niitaka during Japanese rule, is the highest mountain on Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbour ...
in
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
; though it had glaciers descending as low as during the
Last Glacial Maximum The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), also referred to as the Late Glacial Maximum, was the most recent time during the Last Glacial Period that ice sheets In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glac ...
, none survive and at present no glaciers exist within of the Tropic of Cancer; the nearest currently surviving are the Minyong and Baishui in the
Himalayas The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ar ...

Himalayas
to the north and on
Iztaccíhuatl
Iztaccíhuatl
to the south.


Circumnavigation

According to the rules of the
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (; FAI; en, World Air Sports Federation) is the world governing body for air sports, and also stewards definitions regarding human spaceflight. It was founded on 14 October 1905, and is headquarte ...
, for a flight to compete for a round-the-world speed record, it must cover a distance no less than the length of the Tropic of Cancer, cross all meridians, and end on the same airfield where it started. Length of the Tropic of Cancer at 23°26′11.7″N is .RhumbSolve online rhumb line calculator
For an ordinary
circumnavigation 300px, In 2012, the Swiss boat '' PlanetSolar'' became the first ever solar electric vehicle to circumnavigate the globe. Circumnavigation is the complete navigation around an entire island, continent, or astronomical object, astronomical body ...
the rules are somewhat relaxed and the distance is set to a rounded value of at least .


Gallery

File:Tropicofcancer.jpg, Road sign south of ,
Western Sahara Western Sahara ( '; ; ) is a disputed territory Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a com ...

Western Sahara
marking the Tropic of Cancer. The sign was placed by
Budapest-Bamako Image:Flat tire repair with touaregs.jpg, Local touaregs assisting a rally participant with a flat tire on one of the Moroccan stages of the Budapest-Bamako The Budapest-Bamako or Great African Run is a charity car race in Africa, and ...

Budapest-Bamako
rally participants; thus, the inscription is in English and
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...
. File:Tropic of Cancer - a few miles from Rann of Kutch.jpg, Sign marking the Tropic of Cancer a few kilometres from
Rann of Kutch The Rann of Kutch ( Gujarati: કચ્છનું રણ) is a large area of salt marsh A salt marsh or saltmarsh, also known as a coastal salt marsh or a tidal marsh, is a coastal ecosystem in the upper coast The coast, also known as ...

Rann of Kutch
,
Gujarat Gujarat (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Gujarat
, India File:Tropic of cancer passes through Madhay Pradesh.jpg, Sign marking the Tropic of Cancer in
Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh (, ; meaning ''Central Province'') is a state in central India. Its capital city, capital is Bhopal, and the largest city is Indore, with Jabalpur, Ujjain, Gwalior, Satna being the other major cities. Madhya Pradesh is the List o ...

Madhya Pradesh
, India File:Tropic of cancer nadia wb india.jpg, Sign marking the Tropic of Cancer on National Highway 34 in
Nadia District Nadia () is a Districts of India, district in the state of West Bengal, East India, India. It borders Bangladesh to the east, North 24 Parganas district, North 24 Parganas and Hooghly district, Hooghly districts to the south, Purba Bardhaman dist ...

Nadia District
,
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
, India File:Ruisui Tropic of Cancer Marker 20100204.jpg,
Ruisui Tropic of Cancer Marker The Ruisui Tropic of Cancer Marker () is a monument marking the Tropic of Cancer in Ruisui, Ruisui Township, Hualien County, Taiwan. History The monument was originally constructed in 1933 west of Ruisui railway station, Ruisui Railway Station. ...
in Ruisui Township,
Hualien County Hualien County (Taiwanese Mandarin, Mandarin Wade–Giles: Hua¹-lien² Hsien⁴; Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, Pīnyīn: ''Huālián Xiàn''; Taiwanese Hokkien, Hokkien Pe̍h-ōe-jī, POJ: ''Hoa-lian-koān'' or ''Hoa-liân-koān''; Taiwanese Hakka, Hakka Ph ...
,
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan


See also

*
Circle of latitude A circle of latitude or line of latitude on is an abstract – connecting all locations around Earth (ignoring ) at a given . Circles of latitude are often called parallels because they are to each other; that is, planes that contain an ...
**
Arctic Circle The Arctic Circle is one of the two s and the most northerly of the five major as shown on maps of . It marks the northernmost point at which the center of the sun is just visible on the and the southernmost point at which the center of the ...

Arctic Circle
** 24th parallel north ** 23rd parallel north **
Equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...

Equator
**
Tropic of Capricorn The Tropic of Capricorn (or the Southern Tropic) is the that contains the at the December (or southern) . It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be seen directly overhead. It also reaches 90 degrees below the horizon at solar ...
**
Antarctic Circle 350px, ''Map of the Antarctic with the Antarctic Circle in blue.'' The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the five major circle of latitude, circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. The region south of this circle is known as the An ...

Antarctic Circle
*
Axial tilt In , axial tilt, also known as obliquity, is the angle between an object's and its al axis, or, equivalently, the angle between its ial plane and . It differs from . At an obliquity of 0 degrees, the two axes point in the same direction; i.e., ...

Axial tilt
*
Milankovitch cycles Milankovitch cycles describe the collective effects of changes in the 's movements on its over thousands of years. The term is named for n and . In the 1920s, he hypothesized that variations in , , and resulted in cyclical variation in the r ...

Milankovitch cycles


References


External links


Article on the Tropic of Cancer in Oman
See: Obliquity of the ecliptic {{geographical coordinates , state = collapsed N23 Tropics