Earth's rotation is the rotation of Planet Earth around its own axis. Earth rotates eastward, in prograde motion. As viewed from the north pole star Polaris, Earth turns counterclockwise.
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is the point in the Northern Hemisphere where Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface. This point is distinct from Earth's North Magnetic Pole. The South Pole is the other point where Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface, in Antarctica.
Earth rotates once in about 24 hours with respect to the Sun, but once every 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds with respect to other, distant, stars (see below). Earth's rotation is slowing slightly with time; thus, a day was shorter in the past. This is due to the tidal effects the Moon has on Earth's rotation. Atomic clocks show that a modern-day is longer by about 1.7 milliseconds than a century ago,slowly increasing the rate at which UTC is adjusted by leap seconds. Analysis of historical astronomical records shows a slowing trend of about 2.3 milliseconds per century since the 8th century BCE.
Among the ancient Greeks, several of the Pythagorean school believed in the rotation of Earth rather than the apparent diurnal rotation of the heavens. Perhaps the first was Philolaus (470–385 BCE), though his system was complicated, including a counter-earth rotating daily about a central fire.
A more conventional picture was that supported by Hicetas, Heraclides and Ecphantus in the fourth century BCE who assumed that Earth rotated but did not suggest that Earth revolved about the Sun. In the third century BCE, Aristarchus of Samos suggested the Sun's central place.
However, Aristotle in the fourth century BCE criticized the ideas of Philolaus as being based on theory rather than observation. He established the idea of a sphere of fixed stars that rotated about Earth.This was accepted by most of those who came after, in particular Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century CE), who thought Earth would be devastated by gales if it rotated.
In 499 CE, the Hindu astronomer Aryabhata wrote that the spherical Earth rotates about its axis daily, and that the apparent movement of the stars is a relative motion caused by the rotation of Earth. He provided the following analogy: "Just as a man in a boat going in one direction sees the stationary things on the bank as moving in the opposite direction, in the same way to a man at Lanka the fixed stars appear to be going westward."
In the 10th century, some Muslim astronomers accepted that Earth rotates around its axis.According to al-Biruni, Abu Sa'id al-Sijzi (d. circa 1020) invented an astrolabe called al-zūraqī based on the idea believed by some of his contemporaries "that the motion we see is due to the Earth's movement and not to that of the sky." The prevalence of this view is further confirmed by a reference from the 13th century which states: "According to the geometers [or engineers] (muhandisīn), the Earth is in constant circular motion, and what appears to be the motion of the heavens is actually due to the motion of the Earth and not the stars." Treatises were written to discuss its possibility, either as refutations or expressing doubts about Ptolemy's arguments against it. At the Maragha and Samarkand observatories, Earth's rotation was discussed by Tusi (b. 1201) and Qushji (b. 1403); the arguments and evidence they used resemble those used by Copernicus.
In medieval Europe, Thomas Aquinas accepted Aristotle's viewand so, reluctantly, did John Buridan and Nicole Oresme in the fourteenth century. Not until Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543 adopted a heliocentric world system did the contemporary understanding of Earth's rotation begin to be established. Copernicus pointed out that if the movement of Earth is violent, then the movement of the stars must be very much more so. He acknowledged the contribution of the Pythagoreans and pointed to examples of relative motion. For Copernicus this was the first step in establishing the simpler pattern of planets circling a central Sun.
Tycho Brahe, who produced accurate observations on which Kepler based his laws, used Copernicus's work as the basis of a system assuming a stationary Earth. In 1600, William Gilbert strongly supported Earth's rotation in his treatise on Earth's magnetismand thereby influenced many of his contemporaries. Those like Gilbert who did not openly support or reject the motion of Earth about the Sun are often called "semi-Copernicans". A century after Copernicus, Riccioli disputed the model of a rotating Earth due to the lack of then-observable eastward deflections in falling bodies; such deflections would later be called the Coriolis effect. However, the contributions of Kepler, Galileo and Newton gathered support for the theory of the rotation of Earth.
Earth's rotation implies that the Equator bulges and the geographical poles are flattened. In his Principia , Newton predicted this flattening would occur in the ratio of 1:230, and pointed to the pendulum measurements taken by Richer in 1673 as corroboration of the change in gravity,but initial measurements of meridian lengths by Picard and Cassini at the end of the 17th century suggested the opposite. However, measurements by Maupertuis and the French Geodesic Mission in the 1730s established the oblateness of Earth, thus confirming the positions of both Newton and Copernicus.
In Earth's rotating frame of reference, a freely moving body follows an apparent path that deviates from the one it would follow in a fixed frame of reference. Because of the Coriolis effect, falling bodies veer slightly eastward from the vertical plumb line below their point of release, and projectiles veer right in the Northern Hemisphere (and left in the Southern) from the direction in which they are shot. The Coriolis effect is mainly observable at a meteorological scale, where it is responsible for the opposite directions of cyclone rotation in the Northern and Southern hemispheres (anticlockwise and clockwise, respectively).
Hooke, following a suggestion from Newton in 1679, tried unsuccessfully to verify the predicted eastward deviation of a body dropped from a height of 8.2 meters, but definitive results were obtained later, in the late 18th and early 19th century, by Giovanni Battista Guglielmini in Bologna, Johann Friedrich Benzenberg in Hamburg and Ferdinand Reich in Freiberg, using taller towers and carefully released weights. A ball dropped from a height of 158.5 m departed by 27.4 mm from the vertical compared with a calculated value of 28.1 mm.
The most celebrated test of Earth's rotation is the Foucault pendulum first built by physicist Léon Foucault in 1851, which consisted of a lead-filled brass sphere suspended 67 m from the top of the Panthéon in Paris. Because of Earth's rotation under the swinging pendulum, the pendulum's plane of oscillation appears to rotate at a rate depending on latitude. At the latitude of Paris the predicted and observed shift was about 11 degrees clockwise per hour. Foucault pendulums now swing in museums around the world.
Earth's rotation period relative to the Sun (solar noon to solar noon) is its true solar day or apparent solar day. It depends on Earth's orbital motion and is thus affected by changes in the eccentricity and inclination of Earth's orbit. Both vary over thousands of years, so the annual variation of the true solar day also varies. Generally, it is longer than the mean solar day during two periods of the year and shorter during another two. 10 seconds longer to do so. Conversely, it is about 10 seconds shorter near aphelion. It is about 20 seconds longer near a solstice when the projection of the Sun's apparent motion along the ecliptic onto the celestial equator causes the Sun to move through a greater angle than usual. Conversely, near an equinox the projection onto the equator is shorter by about 20 seconds. Currently, the perihelion and solstice effects combine to lengthen the true solar day near 22 December by 30 mean solar seconds, but the solstice effect is partially cancelled by the aphelion effect near 19 June when it is only 13 seconds longer. The effects of the equinoxes shorten it near 26 March and 16 September by 18 seconds and 21 seconds, respectively.The true solar day tends to be longer near perihelion when the Sun apparently moves along the ecliptic through a greater angle than usual, taking about
The average of the true solar day during the course of an entire year is the mean solar day, which contains 86,400 mean solar seconds. Currently, each of these seconds is slightly longer than an SI second because Earth's mean solar day is now slightly longer than it was during the 19th century due to tidal friction. The average length of the mean solar day since the introduction of the leap second in 1972 has been about 0 to 2 ms longer than 86,400 SI seconds. Random fluctuations due to core-mantle coupling have an amplitude of about 5 ms. The mean solar second between 1750 and 1892 was chosen in 1895 by Simon Newcomb as the independent unit of time in his Tables of the Sun. These tables were used to calculate the world's ephemerides between 1900 and 1983, so this second became known as the ephemeris second. In 1967 the SI second was made equal to the ephemeris second.
The apparent solar time is a measure of Earth's rotation and the difference between it and the mean solar time is known as the equation of time.
Earth's rotation period relative to the International Celestial Reference Frame, called its stellar day by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), is 86,164.098 903 691 seconds of mean solar time (UT1) (23h 56m 4.098 903 691s, 0.997 269 663 237 16 mean solar days). Earth's rotation period relative to the precessing mean vernal equinox, named sidereal day , is 86,164.090 530 832 88 seconds of mean solar time (UT1) (23h 56m 4.090 530 832 88s, 0.997 269 566 329 08 mean solar days). Thus, the sidereal day is shorter than the stellar day by about 8.4 ms.
Both the stellar day and the sidereal day are shorter than the mean solar day by about 3 minutes56 seconds. This is a result of the Earth turning 1 additional rotation, relative to the celestial reference frame, as it orbits the Sun (so 366.25 rotations/y). The mean solar day in SI seconds is available from the IERS for the periods 1623–2005 and 1962–2005.
Recently (1999–2010) the average annual length of the mean solar day in excess of 86,400 SI seconds has varied between 0.25 ms and 1 ms, which must be added to both the stellar and sidereal days given in mean solar time above to obtain their lengths in SI seconds (see Fluctuations in the length of day).
The angular speed of Earth's rotation in inertial space is 7.2921150 ± 0.0000001×10 −5 radians per SI second. Multiplying by (180°/π radians) × (86,400 seconds/day) yields 360.985 6°/day, indicating that Earth rotates more than 360° relative to the fixed stars in one solar day. Earth's movement along its nearly circular orbit while it is rotating once around its axis requires that Earth rotate slightly more than once relative to the fixed stars before the mean Sun can pass overhead again, even though it rotates only once (360°) relative to the mean Sun. Multiplying the value in rad/s by Earth's equatorial radius of 6,378,137 m (WGS84 ellipsoid) (factors of 2π radians needed by both cancel) yields an equatorial speed of 465.10 metres per second (1,674.4 km/h). Some sources state that Earth's equatorial speed is slightly less, or 1,669.8 km/h. This is obtained by dividing Earth's equatorial circumference by 24 hours. However, the use of the solar day is incorrect, it must be the sidereal day, so the corresponding time unit must be a sidereal hour. This is confirmed by multiplying by the number of sidereal days in one mean solar day, 1.002 737 909 350 795, which yields the equatorial speed in mean solar hours given above of 1,674.4 km/h.
The tangential speed of Earth's rotation at a point on Earth can be approximated by multiplying the speed at the equator by the cosine of the latitude. km/h = 1470.2 km/h.For example, the Kennedy Space Center is located at latitude 28.59° N, which yields a speed of: cos 28.59° × 1674.4
Earth's rotation axis moves with respect to the fixed stars (inertial space); the components of this motion are precession and nutation. It also moves with respect to Earth's crust; this is called polar motion.
Precession is a rotation of Earth's rotation axis, caused primarily by external torques from the gravity of the Sun, Moon and other bodies. The polar motion is primarily due to free core nutation and the Chandler wobble.
Over millions of years, Earth's rotation has been slowed significantly by tidal acceleration through gravitational interactions with the Moon. Thus angular momentum is slowly transferred to the Moon at a rate proportional to , where is the orbital radius of the Moon. This process has gradually increased the length of the day to its current value, and resulted in the Moon being tidally locked with Earth.
This gradual rotational deceleration is empirically documented by estimates of day lengths obtained from observations of tidal rhythmites and stromatolites; a compilation of these measurementsfound that the length of the day has increased steadily from about 21 hours at 600 Myr ago to the current 24-hour value. By counting the microscopic lamina that form at higher tides, tidal frequencies (and thus day lengths) can be estimated, much like counting tree rings, though these estimates can be increasingly unreliable at older ages.
The current rate of tidal deceleration is anomalously high, implying Earth's rotational velocity must have decreased more slowly in the past. Empirical datatentatively shows a sharp increase in rotational deceleration about 600 Myr ago. Some models suggest that Earth maintained a constant day length of 21 hours throughout much of the Precambrian. This day length corresponds to the semidiurnal resonant period of the thermally-driven atmospheric tide; at this day length, the decelerative lunar torque could have been canceled by an accelerative torque from the atmospheric tide, resulting in no net torque and a constant rotational period. This stabilizing effect could have been broken by a sudden change in global temperature. Recent computational simulations support this hypothesis and suggest the Marinoan or Sturtian glaciations broke this stable configuration about 600 Myr ago; the simulated results agree quite closely with existing paleorotational data.
Some recent large-scale events, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, have caused the length of a day to shorten by 3 microseconds by reducing Earth's moment of inertia.Post-glacial rebound, ongoing since the last Ice age, is also changing the distribution of Earth's mass, thus affecting the moment of inertia of Earth and, by the conservation of angular momentum, Earth's rotation period.
The length of the day can also be influenced by manmade structures. For example, NASA scientists calculated that the water stored in the Three Gorges Dam has increased the length of Earth's day by 0.06 microseconds due to the shift in mass.
The primary monitoring of Earth's rotation is performed by very-long-baseline interferometry coordinated with the Global Positioning System, satellite laser ranging, and other satellite techniques. This provides an absolute reference for the determination of universal time, precession, and nutation.
There are recorded observations of solar and lunar eclipses by Babylonian and Chinese astronomers beginning in the 8th century BCE, as well as from the medieval Islamic world [ citation needed ] and elsewhere. These observations can be used to determine changes in Earth's rotation over the last 27 centuries, since the length of the day is a critical parameter in the calculation of the place and time of eclipses. A change in day length of milliseconds per century shows up as a change of hours and thousands of kilometers in eclipse observations. The ancient data are consistent with a shorter day, meaning Earth was turning faster throughout the past.
Around every 25-30 years Earth's rotation slows temporarily by a few milliseconds per day, usually lasting around 5 years. 2017 was the fourth consecutive year that Earth's rotation has slowed. The cause of this variability has not yet been determined.
Earth's original rotation was a vestige of the original angular momentum of the cloud of dust, rocks, and gas that coalesced to form the Solar System. This primordial cloud was composed of hydrogen and helium produced in the Big Bang, as well as heavier elements ejected by supernovas. As this interstellar dust is heterogeneous, any asymmetry during gravitational accretion resulted in the angular momentum of the eventual planet.
However, if the giant-impact hypothesis for the origin of the Moon is correct, this primordial rotation rate would have been reset by the Theia impact 4.5 billion years ago. Regardless of the speed and tilt of Earth's rotation before the impact, it would have experienced a day some five hours long after the impact.Tidal effects would then have slowed this rate to its modern value.
A day is approximately the period of time during which the Earth completes one rotation around its axis. A solar day is the length of time which elapses between the Sun reaching its highest point in the sky two consecutive times. Days on other planets are defined similarly and vary in length due to differing rotation periods, that of Mars being slightly longer and sometimes called a sol.
In precise timekeeping, ΔT is a measure of the cumulative effect of the departure of the Earth's rotation period from the fixed-length day of atomic time. Formally it is the time difference obtained by subtracting Universal Time from Terrestrial Time : ΔT = TT − UT. The value of ΔT for the start of 1902 is approximately zero; for 2002 it is about 64 seconds. So the Earth's rotations over that century took about 64 seconds longer than would be required for days of atomic time.
The term ephemeris time can in principle refer to time in connection with any astronomical ephemeris. In practice it has been used more specifically to refer to:
The second is the base unit of time in the International System of Units (SI), commonly understood and historically defined as 1⁄86400 of a day – this factor derived from the division of the day first into 24 hours, then to 60 minutes and finally to 60 seconds each. Analog clocks and watches often have sixty tick marks on their faces, representing seconds, and a "second hand" to mark the passage of time in seconds. Digital clocks and watches often have a two-digit seconds counter. The second is also part of several other units of measurement like meters per second for velocity, meters per second per second for acceleration, and cycles per second for frequency.
Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite, and the primary planet that it orbits. The acceleration causes a gradual recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, and a corresponding slowdown of the primary's rotation. The process eventually leads to tidal locking, usually of the smaller first, and later the larger body. The Earth–Moon system is the best-studied case.
A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes; or points in time; or both. In modern times, several time specifications have been officially recognized as standards, where formerly they were matters of custom and practice. An example of a kind of time standard can be a time scale, specifying a method for measuring divisions of time. A standard for civil time can specify both time intervals and time-of-day.
Universal Time (UT) is a time standard based on Earth's rotation. There are several versions of Universal Time, which differ by up to a few seconds. The most commonly used are Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and UT1. All of these versions of UT, except for UTC, are based on Earth's rotation relative to distant celestial objects, but with a scaling factor and other adjustments to make them closer to solar time. UTC is based on International Atomic Time, with leap seconds added to keep it within 0.9 second of UT1.
Sidereal time is a timekeeping system that astronomers use to locate celestial objects. Using sidereal time, it is possible to easily point a telescope to the proper coordinates in the night sky. Briefly, sidereal time is a "time scale that is based on Earth's rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed stars".
Tidal locking, in the best-known case, occurs when an orbiting astronomical body always has the same face toward the object it is orbiting. This is known as synchronous rotation: the tidally locked body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner. For example, the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth, although there is some variability because the Moon's orbit is not perfectly circular. Usually, only the satellite is tidally locked to the larger body. However, if both the difference in mass between the two bodies and the distance between them are relatively small, each may be tidally locked to the other; this is the case for Pluto and Charon.
In astronomy, axial precession is a gravity-induced, slow, and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body's rotational axis. In particular, it can refer to the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth's axis of rotation in a cycle of approximately 25,772 years. This is similar to the precession of a spinning-top, with the axis tracing out a pair of cones joined at their apices. The term "precession" typically refers only to this largest part of the motion; other changes in the alignment of Earth's axis—nutation and polar motion—are much smaller in magnitude.
Diurnal motion is an astronomical term referring to the apparent motion of celestial objects around Earth, or more precisely around the two celestial poles, over the course of one day. It is caused by Earth's rotation around its axis, so almost every star appears to follow a circular arc path called the diurnal circle.
Solar time is a calculation of the passage of time based on the position of the Sun in the sky. The fundamental unit of solar time is the day. Two types of solar time are apparent solar time and mean solar time.
The orbital period is the time a given astronomical object takes to complete one orbit around another object, and applies in astronomy usually to planets or asteroids orbiting the Sun, moons orbiting planets, exoplanets orbiting other stars, or binary stars.
A lunar day is the period of time for Earth's Moon to complete one rotation on its axis with respect to the Sun. Due to tidal locking, it is also the time the Moon takes to complete one orbit around Earth and return to the same phase.
A synodic day is the period it takes for a planet to rotate once in relation to the star it is orbiting. For Earth, the synodic day is known as a solar day, and its mean length is 24 hours.
In astronomy, the rotation period of a celestial object is the time that the object takes to complete a single revolution around its axis of rotation relative to the background stars. It differs from the object's solar day, which may include an extra fractional rotation needed to accommodate the portion of the object's orbital period during one day.
The Moon orbits Earth in the prograde direction and completes one revolution relative to the stars in about 27.32 days and one revolution relative to the Sun in about 29.53 days. Earth and the Moon orbit about their barycentre, which lies about 4,600 km (2,900 mi) from Earth's center. On average, the distance to the Moon is about 385,000 km (239,000 mi) from Earth's center, which corresponds to about 60 Earth radii.
A tropical year is the time that the Sun takes to return to the same position in the cycle of seasons, as seen from Earth; for example, the time from vernal equinox to vernal equinox, or from summer solstice to summer solstice. This differs from the time it takes Earth to complete one full orbit around the Sun as measured with respect to the fixed stars by about 20 minutes because of the precession of the equinoxes.
Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude, and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. It is effectively a successor to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two successive syzygies. The precise definition varies, especially for the beginning of the month.