How Fast does the Earth Spin?

3,371 Views Updated: 25 Apr 2018
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How Fast does the Earth Spin?

It is fairly simple to understand motion in human terms and one can easily make out when they are sitting or standing. We regulate our movements, and after going for a run or traveling for long, we tend to sit at one place and take rest.

What is a surprising realization for many is that even while they are sitting or resting, they are actually moving? The movement is pretty fast and yet we are unable to make it out.  

Rotation of the Earth 

Before you get perplexed further let's take an example, when we are sitting on a train and the train is moving on the rails, we are under the illusion that the train is actually still. We instead feel that everything outside the train window is rather moving backward. Similarly, we are on a planet that is continuously spinning and we labor under the delusion that it is the Sun rising from the east, the stars coming out at night and the clouds drifting away. The truth is that it's the planet that is turning on its axis for a complete 24 hours and that rotation is the science behind a day on Earth. 

(Image Courtesy: redOrbit)

The Earth takes 24 hours to complete one rotational cycle around the Sun. To complete this cycle a point close to the equator of the Earth must move at close to 1000 miles per hour (1600 km/hr) while the speed decreases towards the North. Since gravity holds us back and grounded to the surface, we move along this enormous planet without realizing that it is spinning. The speed of the Earth spinning right at the equator is 1037 mph which is 1.670 km/hr.

The only proof that is visible on the surface of the Earth that depicts its continuous movement is circular streams of water in the great oceans and of the air that surrounds us all the time. The Earth moves continuously, spinning on its axis with the speed of motion faster at the equator and slower near the poles. As the enormous planet moves giant wheels of water and air circulate in the northern and southern hemisphere. The Gulf Stream for eg. which carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico right to the Great Britain and makes the country feel a lot warmer and wetter than it would have been in the absence of this phenomenon. The Gulf stream is part of the wheel which contains more water than all the rivers of the world combined and the energy that makes this water circulate is the rotation of the Earth. 

Retrograde motion 

There is another phenomenon that takes place when a planet would back up before propelling back in motion. The red planet, for example, orbits way farther from the Sun than the Earth but a point arrives when these two planets moving in their respective orbits pass each other. When the Earth passes Mars, the red planet is moving backward in the sky. It moves forward again after it has passed by Earth.

(Image Courtesy: National Geographic Channel)


If you put a finger in front of your face and see it by first closing your left and then right eye, you will see the finger differently. This is due to the fact that both your eyes see it from different angles. This phenomenon in astronomy is used to measure the distance of nearby objects in space. Based on it, one can clearly observe that as the Earth completes its revolution cycle and ushers in a different season, the stars change position in the sky. The truth though is that the stars remain at the same position but it is the spinning of our planet that creates these changes. In the changing season, we view the stars from a different vantage point which is completely due to the movement of the Earth.

(Image Courtesy: Space Yug)

Do you have any other question related to planet Earth such as what our planet looks like from space then let us know using the comment box given below?

(Featured Image Courtesy: Reference)

Posted by: Shyam Posts: (5) Opinions: (11) Points: 725 Rank: 124

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