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The sun produces an unbelievable amount of energy that reaches the earth. The amount of energy that is absorbed by the earth in one hour is more energy than mankind uses in one year. The total amount of solar energy reaching the earth in one year is huge - twice as much energy as ever existed from all sources of coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium combined. The sun strikes the surface of the earth at different angles ranging from 0 degrees (no sun) at the poles to 90 degrees at the equator during spring and fall. At the equator during noon time, the earth's surface gets the maximum amount of energy. As one moves away from the equator, the sun's rays have to travel longer through the atmosphere. Along the way some rays are reflected into space or scattered by clouds causing loss of energy as they go. On average, about 50% of the sun's energy makes it through the atmosphere and strikes the earth. The tilt in the earth's axis of rotation also causes variations in the amount of sunshine received. The north pole receives little sunshine in the winter months and likewise the south pole receives little in the summer months. So the amount of solar energy that reaches any given location varies by latitude, time of year, time of day, and local weather.
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