Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | January 7, 2011

Mathematics + Astronomy

A basic quesion going, at least in its spirit, back to the common roots of mathematics and astronomy.
When we look (with a large magnification) at the Solar System from thePolar Star, we see two rotational movements:

  • the Earth around the Sun;
  • the Earth around its axis.

Are they both counterclockwise? What is the simplest way to check that(at least for the first one, the second one is obvious)?

The easiest way to check that is to look in the calendar and check times of sunset and sunrise around winter solstice (data are fo Manchester, UK):

14 Dec 2010 08:18 15:49

15 Dec 2010 08:19 15:49

16 Dec 2010 08:20 15:49

17 Dec 2010 08:20 15:50

18 Dec 2010 08:21 15:50

19 Dec 2010 08:22 15:50

20 Dec 2010 08:22 15:51

21 Dec 2010 08:23 15:51

22 Dec 2010 08:23 15:52

23 Dec 2010 08:24 15:52

24 Dec 2010 08:24 15:53

25 Dec 2010 08:25 15:53

26 Dec 2010 08:25 15:54

27 Dec 2010 08:25 15:55

28 Dec 2010 08:25 15:56

29 Dec 2010 08:25 15:57

30 Dec 2010 08:25 15:58

31 Dec 2010 08:25 15:59

Got the drift?

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Responses

  1. Observe the rotation of the earth on its axis from a perspective that looks at the South pole. Then it is equally “obvious” that this rotation is CLOCKWISE. A similar perspective change could “reverse” the direction of the rotation of the earth around the sun.

  2. I see the rotation of the earth around the sun.


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