Rotation - Astronomy


In astronomy, rotation is a commonly observed phenomenon. Stars, planets and similar bodies all spin around on their axis. The rotation rate of planets in the solar system was first measured by tracking visual features. Stellar rotation is measured through Doppler shift or by tracking active surface features.

This rotation induces a centrifugal acceleration in the reference frame of the Earth which slightly counteracts the effect of gravity the closer one is to the equator. One effect is that an object weighs slightly less at the equator. Another is that the Earth is slightly deformed into an oblate spheroid.

Another consequence of the rotation of a planet is the phenomenon of precession. Like a gyroscope, the overall effect is a slight "wobble" in the movement of the axis of a planet. Currently the tilt of the Earth's axis to its orbital plane (obliquity of the ecliptic) is 23.44 degrees, but this angle changes slowly (over thousands of years). (See also Precession of the equinoxes and Pole star.)

Read more about this topic:  Rotation

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