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Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in Tell Me Why |

How Fast Does the Earth Spin?

How Fast Does the Earth Spin?

The Earth is like a big ball, and it spins so as to turn around once every 24 hours. This means the surface of the Earth is moving pretty fast. If you were in the United States, then you would be amazed to know that you are being whirled along right now at the rate of about eight hundred miles (1,280 km) an hour.

Since the Earth moves in one piece, a place on the equator will have to move faster to complete a turn in 24 hours. At the equator, the Earth is spinning about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) per hour, but a person standing at the North Pole would only be turned around once in 24 hours.

Earth is moving at a fixed rate, and we’re all moving along with it, and that’s why we don’t feel Earth’s spin. If Earth’s spin were suddenly to speed up or slow down, you would definitely feel it.

The constant spin of the Earth had our ancestors pretty confused about the true nature of the cosmos. They noticed that the stars, and the sun and the moon, all appeared to move above the Earth. Because they couldn’t feel Earth move, they logically interpreted this observation to mean that Earth was stationary and “the heavens” moved above us.

With the notable exception of the early Greek scientist Aristarchus, who first proposed a heliocentric (sun-centered) model of the universe hundreds of years Before Common Era, the world’s great thinkers upheld the geocentric (Earth-centered) idea of the cosmos for many centuries.

It wasn’t until the 16th Century that the heliocentric model of Copernicus began to be discussed and understood. While not without errors, Copernicus’ model eventually convinced the world that Earth spun on its axis beneath the stars, and also moved in orbit around the sun.

Content for this question contributed by Donna Turner, resident of Goshen, Goshen Township, Clermont County, Ohio, USA