The location of the sunrises over the Manzano Mountains demonstrates the tilt of the Earth as it revolves around the sun. Earth currently has an axial tilt of about 23.4 degrees.
In the northern hemisphere, the winter sun rises in the southeast, as can be seen as it rises above the Manzano Mountains, and then sets in the southwest. The sun remains on the south side all day long.
In the summer, the sun rises in the northeast, peaks out slightly south of overhead point during the day and then sets in the northwest. Everywhere around the world, except for the poles, during the equinoxes (March 20-21 and September 22-23), the sun rises due east and sets due west.
In Valencia County, you can note the observed sunrises over the Manzano Mountains (or sunset points to the west) on Dec. 20 vs. June 20. You can then measure the azimuths of these points with a compass, and you will note that the sunset and sunrise points in the winter and in the summer are about 57 degrees apart. Because of our 34.5 degrees latitude, this is wider than the 47 degrees measured at the equator, but much less than what you would measure in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Earth’s tilt creates the seasons caused by changing the daily amount of sunlight shining over us. For the past five million years, Earth’s tilt has varied between 22 and 24.5 degrees, changing back and forth over a period of 41,040 years.
These sunsets and sunrises we can observe in the clear skies in our county demonstrate to us the tilt of the earth as it circles around the sun.