Perhaps the easiest way to envisage an Orbital is to compare it to the idea that inspired it (this sounds better than saying; Here's where I stole it from). If you know what a Ringworld is - invented by Larry Niven; a segment of a Dyson Sphere - then just discard the shadow-squares, shrink the whole thing till it's about three million kilometres across, and place in orbit around a suitable star, tilted just off the ecliptic; spin it to produce one gravity and that gives you an automatic 24-hour day-night cycle (roughly; the Culture's day is actually a bit longer).
So "ecliptic" means the plane in which it orbits the star, and it's tilted relative to this ecliptic, so that one inner side of the ring is facing the sun and the other inner side is facing away from the sun, creating day and night. But as the orbital revolves around the sun, wouldn't its axis of rotation stay in the same direction, the same as the Earth's does:
So the ring is oriented like the red equator in the above image, so during the Autumn and Spring seasons, there are long periods of the year where the sun-facing side is constantly eclipsed by the night side?
But he also says
An elliptical orbit provides seasons.
So am I misunderstanding something? How would an elliptical shape create seasons?
Oops, I misread that; it that says "elliptical orbit" not "elliptical orbital". Meaning the orbital gets closer or farther from the sun as it revolves, which makes sense. Not that the orbital itself is an ellipse.
My question about the self-eclipsing still stands, though. It seems to me that no matter what angle the orbital rotates at, there will be a point where the sun is in the plane perpendicular to its axis, and one side will eclipse the other.