Tag Archives: rotation

Behold: the South Celestial Pole – the centre of all southern star trail arcs – one of two imaginary points in the sky where the Earth’s axis of rotation indefinitely extended, intersects the celestial sphere. To wit: 

In this starry panorama stretching about 60 degrees across deep southern skies the South Celestial Pole is somewhere near the middle though, flanked by bright galaxies and southern celestial gems. Across the top of the frame are the stars and nebulae along the plane of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Gamma Crucis, a yellowish giant star heads the Southern Cross near top center, with the dark expanse of the Coalsack nebula tucked under the cross arm on the left. Eta Carinae and the reddish glow of the Great Carina Nebula shine along the galactic plane near the right edge. At the bottom are the Large and Small Magellanic clouds, external galaxies in their own right and satellites of the mighty Milky Way. A line from Gamma Crucis through the blue star at the bottom of the southern cross, Alpha Crucis, points toward the South Celestial Pole, but where exactly is it? Just look for south pole star Sigma Octantis. Analog to Polaris the north pole star, Sigma Octantis is little over one degree fom the the South Celestial pole.

(Image: Petr Horalek, Josef Kujal)


Like the Earth, the sun rotates, as it does, it changes in both subtle and dramatic ways. To wit:

In the featured time-lapse sequences, our Sun — as imaged by NASA‘s Solar Dynamics Observatory — is shown rotating though an entire month in 2014. In the large image on the left, the solar chromosphere is depicted in ultraviolet light, while the smaller and lighter image to its upper right simultaneously shows the more familiar solar photosphere in visible light. The rest of the inset six Sun images highlight X-ray emission by relatively rare iron atoms located at different heights of the corona, all false-coloured to accentuate differences. The Sun takes just under a month to rotate completely — rotating fastest at the equator. A large and active sunspot region rotates into view soon after the video starts. Subtle effects include changes in surface texture and the shapes of active regions. Dramatic effects include numerous flashes in active regions, and fluttering and erupting prominences visible all around the Sun’s edge. Presently, our Sun is passing an unusually low Solar minimum in activity of its 11-year magnetic cycle. As the video ends, the same large and active sunspot region previously Video Credit: SDO, NASA; Digital Composition: Kevin M. Gill mentioned rotates back into view, this time looking different.

(Video: SDO, NASA; Digital Composition: Kevin M. Gill)


Why do we never see the Moon like this? Because of tidal locking.To wit:

…because the Earth’s moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing us only one side. Given modern digital technology, however, combined with many detailed images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has been composed. The featured time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. From an entire lunar month condensed into 24 seconds, the video clearly shows that the Earth side of the Moon contains an abundance of dark lunar maria, while the lunar far side is dominated by bright lunar highlands. Currently, over 19 new missions to the Moon are under active development from eight different countries, most of which have expected launch dates in the next three years.

(Video: NASA, LRO, Arizona State U.)