Why don’t We Feel the Earth’s Motion

In earlier times, it was believed that Earth was at the central position in the universe, with all celestial objects, including the Sun, Moon, and planets, revolving around it. This perception was based on the observation that Earth itself appeared stationary while stars and planets exhibited apparent movements over time.


Telescopes: Types, Working and Facts

The Formation of a Rainbow – Explained

What is The Difference Between Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors?

The Planet Earth
The Planet Earth

This long-standing belief underwent a profound transformation with the revolutionary insights of Nicholas Copernicus, a Polish astronomer. Copernicus introduced his groundbreaking theory, that Earth, in fact, orbited the Sun.

Nicholas Copernicus
Nicholas Copernicus

This revelation established that Earth indeed revolves around the Sun and completes a full orbit in approximately 365 and one-quarter days, corresponding to the duration of a calendar year. Furthermore, it was revealed that Earth rotates on its own axis, tilted at an angle of 23 and a half degrees from the vertical. Each rotation takes approximately 24 hours to complete, constituting a single day.

The Earth Moving On Its Own Axis
The Earth Moving On Its Own Axis

One may wonder why, despite Earth’s dual motion of rotation and revolution, we do not perceive any sense of motion. The explanation lies in the force of gravity. All entities on Earth move harmoniously with the planet itself, thereby mitigating our ability to sense any motion.

To illustrate, consider an ant situated on a rotating football. The ant experiences no movement because it moves in tandem with the ball’s rotation. Similarly, all objects on Earth move along with the planet, making us unable to feel Earth’s rotation and revolution.

The transition of seasons serves as compelling evidence of Earth’s motion. The changing seasons result from Earth’s dual motions: its revolution around the Sun and its rotation on its own axis. Additionally, the alternation of day and night is attributed to the rotation, as the segment of Earth facing the Sun encounters daylight, while the opposite side experiences nighttime.

If Earth did not rotate, one side would eternally be in daylight, while the other would remained in perpetual darkness. The inclination of Earth’s axis, at an angle of 23 and a half degrees, plays a pivotal role in this phenomenon, causing the North and South Poles to be oriented toward the Sun for extended periods, accounting for the six-month durations of daylight and nighttime at these polar regions.

Sunlight Hitting Different Parts Of The Earth
Sunlight Hitting Different Parts Of The Earth

In essence, the transition of seasons is influenced by Earth’s orbital revolution around the Sun, while the recurring cycles of day and night are a direct consequence of its axial rotation.

Examples for Understanding Earth’s motion in place

  • The reason we don’t sense the Earth’s rotation is that everything around us, including the atmosphere, towering skyscrapers, and all objects, maintains the same consistent speed of rotation.
  • This sensation is similar to when you are riding in a car or flying in an airplane under smooth conditions. While a jumbo jet soars at roughly 500 miles per hour (about 800 kilometers per hour), approximately half the speed of Earth’s rotation at the Equator, you don’t feel any motion when your eyes are closed. Even when a flight attendant pours coffee into your cup, the coffee doesn’t shift to the back of the plane because you, the coffee, and the cup are all traveling at the same speed as the plane.
  • Similarly, Earth rotates at a steady pace, and we move in along with this motion. It’s similar to envisioning yourself on that jumbo jet again. Imagine what happens when the pilot either accelerates or decelerates the plane. In such cases, you might experience a sensation of being pushed into your seat. If Earth were to suddenly alter its rotation rate, you would unmistakably detect the shift in motion.
  • However, as long as Earth maintains its constant, uninterrupted rotation and orbits the Sun at an unchanging pace, you, as an inhabitant of this celestial vessel, seamlessly accompany it on its journey. If Earth were to suddenly accelerate, you would topple backward, necessitating you to lean into the direction of this abrupt motion to remain upright.

More: How Many Constellations are There?