As summer approaches and the days heat up, we get an influx of “Why is it hot in the summer?” questions in our reference queue.
In the Northern Hemisphere, our summer months (June-September) are usually hot because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. It is popular belief that it is hot in the summer because the earth is closest to the sun during this season. In fact, the earth is farthest from the sun during the summer months. Because we frequently receive this question, we have featured it in our Everyday Mystery website – see “Why it is hot in the summer (and cold in the winter)?” for a more detailed explanation.
On a similar note, when temperatures in the United States soar well over 100 degrees, we receive questions asking “Is it ever hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?” Theoretically you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, but you have to have the right conditions, such as a sidewalk that can maintain 158°F (eggs need at least 158°F to coagulate and cook). Generally speaking, sidewalks can reach temperatures up to 145°F, which is not hot enough to fry an egg. However, this does not stop people from celebrating the concept. Folks in Oatman, Arizona have an annual sidewalk egg fry, where participants can use aids, such as mirrors, aluminum reflectors, or magnifying glasses to help cook the egg. To learn more about cooking eggs on sidewalks see our Everyday Mystery “Is it ever hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?”