Southern Hemisphere

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This article is about the use of the term in describing the body of the Earth or other round astronomical bodies. For the use of the term describing astronomical observations of the sky, see Southern Celestial Hemisphere.

Coordinates: 45°0′0″S 0°0′0″E / 45.00000°S 0.00000°E / -45.00000; 0.00000

A famous photo of Earth from Apollo 17 (Blue Marble) originally had the south pole at the top; however, it was turned upside-down to fit the traditional perspective
The Southern Hemisphere highlighted in yellow (Antarctica not depicted)
The Southern Hemisphere from above the South Pole

The Southern Hemisphere of Earth is the half which is south of the equator. It contains all or parts of five continents[1] (Antarctica, Australia, about 9/10 of South America, the southern third of Africa, and some southern islands in Asia), four oceans (Indian, South Atlantic, Southern, and South Pacific) and most of Oceania. Several islands off the Asian continental mainland are also in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to the tilt of Earth's rotation relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane, summer is from December to March and winter is from June to September. September 22 or 23 is the vernal equinox and March 20 or 21 is the autumnal equinox.



Southern Hemisphere climates tend to be slightly milder than those at similar latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, except in the Antarctic which is colder than the Arctic. This is because the Southern Hemisphere has significantly more ocean and much less land; water heats up and cools down more slowly than land.

Aurora australis appearing in the night sky of Swifts Creek, 100 km (62 mi) north of Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia
Aurora australis appearing from Stewart Island / Rakiura at the southern point of the South Island of New Zealand

In the Southern Hemisphere the sun passes from east to west through the north, although north of the Tropic of Capricorn the mean sun can be directly overhead or due south at midday. The Sun rotating through the north causes an apparent right-left trajectory through the sky unlike the left-right motion of the Sun when seen from the Northern Hemisphere as it passes through the southern sky. Sun-cast shadows turn counterclockwise throughout the day and sundials have the hours increasing in the counterclockwise direction. During solar eclipses viewed from a point to the south of the Tropic of Capricorn the Moon moves from left to right on the disc of the Sun (see, for example, photos with timings of the Solar eclipse of November 13, 2012), while viewed from a point to the north of the Tropic of Cancer (i.e., in the Northern Hemisphere) the Moon moves from right to left during a solar eclipses.

Cyclones and tropical storms spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (as opposed to counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) due to the Coriolis effect.[2]

The southern temperate zone, a subsection of the Southern Hemisphere, is nearly all oceanic. This zone includes all of Uruguay, Lesotho, Swaziland, and New Zealand; most of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia; and parts of Paraguay, Brazil, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, and Madagascar.

The Sagittarius constellation that includes the galactic centre is a southern constellation and this, combined with clearer skies, makes for excellent viewing of the night sky from the Southern Hemisphere with brighter and more numerous stars.

Forests in the Southern Hemisphere have special features which set them aside from the Northern Hemisphere. Both Chile and New Zealand share, for example, unique beech species or Nothofagus. The eucalyptus is native to Australia but has now gone on to be planted in Southern Africa and Latin America for pulp production and, increasingly, biofuel uses.

List of continents and countries[edit]

Continents and microcontinents[edit]

Countries and territories[edit]

South America
Indian Ocean
South Atlantic Ocean
Southern Ocean
South Pacific Ocean


  1. ^ "Hemisphere Map". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Surface Ocean Currents". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 

See also[edit]

Media related to Southern Hemisphere at Wikimedia Commons