The Tropic of Capricorn is a parallel that circles around the Earth at a latitude of about 23°22'S. What makes this latitude special is that is the southernmost point on the globe where the Sun can stand directly overhead; this happens at the summer solstice, which is in December at the Southern Hemisphere. Hence, it marks the south boundary of the tropics.

On a globe, this tropic cuts through the north of Chile and Argentine, the Atlantic Ocean, goes through the north of South Africa, goes through Madagascar, the Indian Ocean, trough Australia, and the Pacific Ocean, and passes over the Pacific Ocean to arrive again in Chile If you were to make this tour, you'd mainly encounter water and desert

Like the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn moves over the surface of the earth due to precession and nutation. Simply put, the tilt of the axis of the Earth varies in time, at time scales varying between days and 41,000 years. Hence, the Tropic of Capricorn moves as well. The current trend is an average movement of 15 meters to the north per year.

The name of the tropic comes from the constellation of Capricorn. When the tropic was named, the summer solstice at the southern hemisphere occured when the Sun was in the constellation of Capricorn. Nowadays, the Sun is in the constellation of Sagittarius at this solstice.

See also: Tropic of Cancer.

Sources:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropic_of_Cancer
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropic_of_Capricorn
  • http://www.crystalinks.com/precession.html
  • http://www.starlink.rl.ac.uk/star/docs/sun67.htx/node206.html
  • http://www.pietro.org/Astro_Util_StaticDemo/MethodsNutationVisualized.htm

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