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The equator is the line on the Earth's surface equidistant from the North Pole and South Pole that divides the Earth into a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern Hemisphere. The equators of other planets and astronomical bodies are defined analogously.
Geodesy of the equator
The latitude of the equator is, by definition, 0°. The length of Earth's equator is about 40,075.0 km, or 24,901.5 miles.
The equator is one of the five main circles of latitude that are based on the relationship between the Earth's axis of rotation and the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun. It is the only line of latitude which is also a great circle. The imaginary circle obtained when the Earth's equator is projected onto the heavens is called the celestial equator.
The Sun, in its seasonal movement through the sky, passes directly over the equator twice each year, on the March and September equinoxes. At the equator, the rays of the sun are perpendicular to the surface of the earth on these dates.
Places on the equator experience the quickest rates of sunrise and sunset in the world. Such places also have a constant 12 hours of day and night throughout the year, while north or south of the equator day length increasingly varies with the seasons.
The Earth bulges slightly at the equator. It has an average diameter of 12,750 km, but at the equator the diameter is approximately 43 km greater.
********s near the equator are good sites for spaceports (e.g., Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana), as they are already moving faster than any other point on the Earth due to the Earth's rotation, and the added velocity reduces the amount of fuel needed to launch spacecraft.
Temperatures near the equator are high all year round (except at altitude). In many tropical regions people identify two seasons: wet and dry. However, most places close to the equator are wet throughout the year, and seasons can vary depending on a variety of factors including elevation and proximity to an ocean.
The surface of the Earth at the equator is mainly ocean. The highest point on the equator is 4,690 m (15,387'), at 00°00′00″S, 77°59′31″W on the south slopes of Volcán Cayambe (summit 5,790 m, 18,996') in Ecuador. This is a short distance above the snow line, and this point and its immediate vicinity form the only section of the equator where snow lies on the ground.
"Crossing the line"
The English-speaking seafaring tradition maintains that all sailors who cross the equator during a nautical voyage must undergo rites of passage and elaborate rituals initiating them into The Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep. These rituals date back to the Middle Ages, though the current ceremonies are most likely derived from Viking traditions. Those who have never "crossed the line" are derisively referred to as "pollywogs" or simply "slimy wogs". Upon entering the domain of His Royal Majesty, Neptunus Rex, all wogs are subject to various initiation rituals performed by those members of the crew who have made the journey before. Upon completion of the initiation ceremony, the wogs are then known as "trusty Shellbacks". If the crossing of the equator is done at the 180th meridian, the title of "Golden Shellback" is conferred, recognizing the simultaneous entry into the realm of the Golden Dragon. If the crossing occurs at the Greenwich or Prime Meridian, the sailor is considered to be an "Emerald Shellback".
Exact length of the equator
The equator is modeled exactly in two widely used standards as a circle of radius an integer number of meters. In 1976 the IAU standardized this radius as 6,378,140 m, subsequently refined by the IUGG to 6,378,137 m and adopted in WGS-84, though the yet more recent IAU-2000 has retained the old IAU-1976 value. In either case the length of the equator is by definition exactly 2π times the given standard, which to the nearest millimeter is 40,075,016.686 m in WGS-84 and 40,075,035.535 m in IAU-1976 and IAU-2000.
(Although millimeter precision can be important up to the scale of a mile, it has negligible physical significance at the scale of a geographic feature such as the equator. From a computational standpoint however millimeter precision or better can be valuable for maintaining consistent results when used in programs for surveying etc. As an overly simple example, if a program were to convert back and forth between the radius and the circumference of the earth sufficiently often while maintaining precision only to a meter each time, errors might accumulate until they became noticeable.)
The geographical mile is defined as one arc minute of the equator, and therefore has different values depending on which standard equator is used, namely 1855.3248 m or 1855.3257 m for respectively WGS-84 and IAU-2000, a difference of nearly a millimeter.
The earth is standardly modeled as a sphere flattened about .336% along its axis. This results in the equator being about .16% longer than a meridian (as a great circle passing through the two poles). The IUGG standard meridian is to the nearest millimeter 40,007,862.917 m, one arc minute of which is 1852.216 m, explaining the SI standardization of the nautical mile as 1852 m, more than 3 meters short of the geographical mile.
Equator line and shadow, but it was of great importance in that it divides the world into halves vary in each climate Eattr than on the nature of plant and animal
· Moritz, H. (1980). "Geodetic Reference System". Bulletin Geodesique 54 (3).* (IUGG/WGS-84 data)
· Taff, Laurence G. (1981). Computational Spherical Astronomy. John Wiley and Sons.* (IAU data