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How to view a globe

This antique Reploglobe from the
1930s has a 24-hour clock in the base.

The equator (A), the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (B), (C) , and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles (D), (E) are the major delineations.
Lines of longitude (F) are called meridians. They are marked in intervals of 10 or 15 degrees, beginning with the zero-degree Greenwich Meridian. Every 15 degrees of longitude equals one hour. In the United States, time zones fall roughly along four meridians, each 15 degrees, or one hour, apart—75 degrees (Eastern), 90 degrees (Central), 105 degrees (Mountain) and 120 degrees (Pacific).

The meridian or semi-meridian allows the globe to spin on its geographic polar axis, an imaginary line through the North and South Poles (G), (H). A mariner’s compass aligns with the magnetic poles, which are different from the geographic poles.

Globes generally are tilted at a 23.5-degree angle, known as the angle of inclination. It represents the tilt of the earth’s axis in relation to the sun, the reason why much of the world experiences a change of seasons.

Time dials (I) are found at the North Pole of many globes. They allow you to calculate the time in one part of the world in relation to another using meridians, or longitude. The 24 demarcations correspond to the meridians and show the 24 hours in a day. For instance, when it’s 1:00 p.m. on the 75th meridian west—New York—it’s 6:00 p.m. at the zero meridian—London.

Latitude lines (K) are called parallels. They are usually shown 10 or 15 degrees apart, starting from zero at the equator.

The analemma (L), the figure 8 diagram found in the Pacific, shows where the sun’s rays fall vertically upon the earth. This occurs only between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The longest and shortest days of the year occur when the sun’s rays are most direct (the summer solstice) and most indirect (the winter solstice).

The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (B), (C) indicate the position of the sun. The Tropic of Cancer depicts the sun’s most northerly path, and the Tropic of Capricorn its most southerly path.