Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Capricorn, parallel of latitude at 23°30' south of the equator; it is the southern boundary of the tropics. This parallel marks the farthest point south at which the sun can be seen directly overhead at noon; south of the parallel the sun appears less than 90° from the northern horizon at any day of the year. The sun reaches its vertical position over the Tropic of Capricorn at about Dec. 22, the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. The term Capricorn comes from the Latin words caper [goat] and cornu [horn] and is the name given to one of the 12 constellations in the zodiac.
For the novel by Henry Miller, see Tropic of Capricorn (novel).

The Tropic of Capricorn, or Southern tropic, is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It lies 23° 26′ 22″ south of the Equator, and marks the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This event occurs at the December solstice, when the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun to its maximum extent.

The northern hemisphere equivalent of the Tropic of Capricorn is the Tropic of Cancer. Latitudes south of the Tropic of Capricorn are in the Southern Temperate Zone. The region north of the Tropic of Capricorn and south of the Tropic of Cancer is known as the Tropics.

The Tropic of Capricorn is so named because about 2,000 years ago the sun was entering the constellation Capricornus (capricorn is Latin for goat horn) at the December solstice. In modern times the sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius during this time. The change is due to precession of the equinoxes. The word "tropic" itself comes from the Greek tropos, meaning turn, referring to the fact that the sun appears to "turn back" at the solstices.

The position of the Tropic of Capricorn is not fixed, but varies in a complex manner over time; see under circles of latitude for information.


Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the Tropic of Capricorn passes through:

Country, territory or sea Notes
Atlantic Ocean
Indian Ocean Mozambique Channel
Indian Ocean
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Pacific Ocean Coral Sea, passing just south of Cato Reef in 's Coral Sea Islands Territory
Pacific Ocean Passing just north of the Minerva Reefs and just south of Tubuai ()
Presidente Hayes
San Pedro
Mato Grosso do Sul
São Paulo
Atlantic Ocean

The following places are some of the landmarks near the Tropic of Capricorn:

New Caledonia, French island territory
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
Great Dividing Range, Queensland, Australia
Gibson Desert, Western Australia, Australia
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Lake Disappointment, Western Australia, Australia
Toliara, Madagascar
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kalahari Desert, Botswana/Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil
Asunción, Paraguay
Antofagasta, Chile
Atacama Desert, Chile
Andes Mountains, Chile/Argentina
Easter Island, Chilean territory
Pitcairn, British island territory
French Polynesia, French archipelago territory
Cook Islands, New Zealand territory
Niue, New Zealand island territory

Cities located along the Tropic of Capricorn

This list is incomplete. There are many other cities that are located along the Tropic of Capricorn

See also

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