Here Is How You Can Observe The Rotation Of The Earth

earth rotation (1)

No one can deny that the earth is rotating at all times. To give a physical proof of the fact, a French physicist  Léon Foucault designed a simple device known as the Foucault pendulum that demonstrates the rotation of the Earth.

Source: YouTube

If you leave the Foucault pendulum swinging long enough, after an hour, it will appear to shift its direction. In the first demonstration of the experiment in 1851 by Foucault; a 61-pound weight was hung from a 200-foot-long wire. A pin at the base of the pendulum drew lines in the wet sand beneath, as it oscillated. An hour later, the direction of oscillation shifted, and the pin drew a new line that intersected the first one, roughly at an angle of 11.25 degrees. Even though people already believed in rotation of the Earth but, the experiment became a sensation throughout Europe and North America.

So you can imagine the Earth’s rotation by observing the Foucault pendulum. But can you physically experience it in some way?

Source: The manufacturer

Well, yes. That is if you are rich enough.

Go to the Newfoundland and charter a plane capable of flying at a minimum of 600 mph. Get it to travel west at the speed of 600 miles an hour. Look down, and Earth will be rotating below you.

The question is, why Newfoundland? Can we observe the same rotation in any part of the world? Yes! You can observe the same phenomenon at any place having the same latitude.  The speed of the atmosphere rotating with the Earth is dependent on its latitude.

Source: Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

Newfoundland lies at 53.1355° N, 57.6604° W, from where the Earth rotates eastwards at the speed of 600 mph. If you wanted to do the same at the equator, you would have to fly much faster because, at the equator, the atmosphere is traveling eastwards at the speed of 1000 mph.

Source: Introduction to Oceanography

If you adjust your speed at your altitude according to local wind and air currents then, continue to fly west, you would be perfectly motionless with respect to the Earth. To actually observe the little details while the Earth rotates, you would have to fly much lower and that is a call for trouble.

Do you plan to go to the Newfoundland to experience the phenomenon yourself? Comment below?



  1. Tim Shoaf Reply

    So if I flew in the same direction as the rotation at the same speed of the rotation would for an hour would I not still land in the same place?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *