Since the Earth tilts on its axis, different parts of the Earth get more or less sunlight at different times of the year. At June 21st, the sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer and the Northern Hemisphere is getting long days with lots of light (summer). On December 22nd, the sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn, and the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing summer while the Northern Hemisphere gets more cold and darkness.
Summer is warm because the sun is more directly overhead and stays up longer, but in terms of actual brightness, everywhere on Earth is about the same distance from the sun and therefore gets an equally bright sun. However, the orbit of the Earth is not an exact circle, so for part of the year the Earth is closer to the sun than at others and the sun appears brighter. This happens when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
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