# 8.5 Motions of Earth, the Moon, and Planets

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1 8.5 Motions of, the, and Planets axis axis North Pole South Pole rotation Figure 1 s axis is an imaginary line that goes through the planet from pole-to-pole. orbital radius the average distance between an object in the Solar System and the If you get up early in the morning and look for the, you will see it low in the eastern sky. At sunset, the is once again low in the sky, but in the west. This is why people often say that the rises in the east and sets in the west. Of course, the does not really move across the sky, it only appears to do so. s Rotation The apparent motion of the in the sky is caused by the rotation of on its axis. This motion is similar to the spinning of a top (Figure 1). makes one complete rotation, in a west-to-east direction, once each day. During its rotation, the portion of that faces the experiences daylight. The portion facing away from the experiences darkness. s Revolution and Planetary Orbits While spins on its axis, it also revolves, or travels around the. s orbit, like that of the other planets, is elliptical. The distance of each planet from the changes as it completes its orbit around the. This is because the is located closer to one end of the elliptical path., for example, is farthest from the around July 4, and closest to the around January 3. Astronomers calculate the average distance from the for each planet and call this value the planet s orbital radius. The shape and size of a planet s orbit affects the time that it takes it to complete a revolution around the, a value which we call an orbital period. The farther a planet is from the, the slower it moves along its orbit and the longer it takes to orbit the (because its orbit is larger). Mars, for example, takes 687 days to orbit the whereas Mercury orbits the in only 88 days. completes one revolution around the approximately every days (Figure 2). If you could look down on the Solar System (such that the North Pole of is pointing toward you), you would see that the planets revolve in a counterclockwise direction. Leap Years Most of our calendar years are 365 days. Since completes one revolution around the in days, we fall 1/4 of a day behind each year. The extra quarter-days are added up every four years and added on as an extra day (February 29) in leap years. By inserting a 366th day, our calendar year closely matches s revolution around the. Inner Planets Mercury Venus 1 AU Mars Figure 2 has an orbital radius of 1 AU and an orbital period of days. 320 Chapter 8 Our Place in Space NEL

2 Effects of s Revolution s revolution affects our view of celestial objects in the sky. You will learn more about this in Section 8.9. Motions of the The also rotates on its axis. As it rotates, the also revolves around. The completes one rotation on its axis in about the same time it takes to complete one revolution around. The result of this is that the same side of the faces at all times. Together, the - pair revolve around the. The Force of Gravity What keeps the planets orbiting the, and the orbiting? There is a force of attraction between all objects in the Universe with mass, known as gravitational force, or gravity. The greater the mass of an object, the stronger its gravitational force. The gravitational force of our massive is strong enough to keep in orbit. Without the s gravity, would move away from the into space (Figure 3). Similarly, the strong pull of s gravity keeps the in orbit. s Speed spins on its axis at a speed of about 1600 km/h at the equator. Meanwhile, revolves around the at a speed of km/h. gravitational force the force of attraction between all masses in the Universe Universal Law of Gravity Isaac Newton ( ) realized that the gravity that kept the in orbit was the same force that made objects on fall to the ground. He developed the Universal Law of Gravitation, which states that every object in the Universe attracts every other object. The more massive the objects are and the closer they are to each other, the greater the attraction. gravitational pull of s velocity resultant path Figure 3 stays in a stable orbit because of the balance between its forward speed and the s gravitational pull. Explaining Motion in the Solar System Although today we understand that the planets, including, revolve around the, this was not always understood. About 2000 years ago, the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy ( CE) believed that the and the planets revolved around. NEL 8.5 Motions of, the, and Planets 321

3 This type of Solar System model is called a geocentric model of the Solar System (Figure 4). Ptolemy observed the apparent motion of the and planets in the sky and assumed that these objects were revolving around. This idea was widely accepted until the Middle Ages, when Nicholas Copernicus ( ) proposed a model placing the at the centre of the Solar System, called the heliocentric model of the Solar System (Figure 5). This model was much better at explaining the motion of the planets than the geocentric model. Saturn Jupiter Mars Jupiter Saturn Mars LEARNING TIP Word Origins Geo means and centric means centre, so the term geocentric means centred. Likewise, helios means, so heliocentric means centred. Mercury Venus Mercury Venus Figure 4 A geocentric model of the Solar System. Figure 5 A heliocentric model of the Solar System. In the early 1600s, Galileo was an outspoken supporter of the heliocentric model. In 1610 he used the telescope he invented to observe four moons orbiting Jupiter. A planet with other celestial objects orbiting it did not conform to the geocentric model, so many astronomers of the time did not believe his discoveries. Galileo s further observations of other planets, especially his observations of Venus, eventually led to the conversion of the scientific community to the heliocentric model. The heliocentric model is the basis of our modern understanding of how the Solar System and other planetary systems in the Universe work. axis North Pole 23.5 South Pole Figure 6 s axis is tilted 23.5 from the vertical. s Tilt s rotational axis is tilted 23.5 from the vertical when compared to the plane of s orbit around the (Figure 6). This tilt affects the average daytime temperature experienced by s hemispheres. The Reason for Seasons As revolves around the, the northern and southern hemispheres experience the seasons spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Many people mistakenly believe that the seasons are caused by s distance from the. Although it is true that s distance from the changes over the course of the year, the changes in - distance are not enough to cause the changes of the seasons. Seasons change primarily because of s tilt. When is farthest from the, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the and sunlight spreads over a relatively small area of s surface (Figure 7(a)). This causes intense heating of s surface and atmosphere. During this time, the appears to travel its highest path in the sky, and there are more hours of daylight. 322 Chapter 8 Our Place in Space NEL

4 When is closest to the, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the and sunlight spreads over a larger area of s surface (Figure 7). This causes less heating of s surface and atmosphere. During this time, the appears to travel a lower path in the sky and there are fewer daylight hours. North Pole North Pole light from the equator light from the equator (a) South Pole South Pole Figure 7 (a) The northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight than the southern hemisphere when is tilted toward the. The reverse effect occurs when is tilted away from the. When s axis is most inclined toward or away from the, we call it a solstice. Solstices occur twice each year. Around June 21, s northern C08-F14-UCOS9SB.ai hemisphere is tilted toward the as much as possible. This is the longest day of the year, C08-F13-UCOS9SB.ai and is considered the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. Around December 21, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the as much as possible. This is the longest night of the year, and is considered the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Ontario Science 10 SB When the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the, the southern hemisphere is tilted away from the, and vice versa. This means COS9SBFN C08-F14-UCOS9SB that when the northern hemisphere experiences summer, the southern Group CO hemisphere experiences CrowleArt Group winter, and vice versa. Between the solstices are two rowle days of equal Deborah daytime Crowle hours and nighttime hours called the equinoxes. In Pass the northern 5th hemisphere, pass the vernal equinox occurs on about March 21 and Approved the autumnal equinox occurs on about September 21 (Figure 8). Not Approved vernal equinox (March 21st) N N N first day of winter (December 21st) N solstice an astronomical event that occurs two times each year, when the tilt of s axis is most inclined toward or away from the, causing the position of the in the sky to appear to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme equinox the time of year when the hours of daylight equal the hours of darkness LEARNING TIP Night and Day The word equinox comes from the Latin words equi meaning equal and nox meaning night. The equinox is a period of equal night, in which there are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. first day of summer (June 21st) autumnal equinox (September 21st) Figure 8 The seasons in the northern hemisphere. NEL 8.5 Motions of, the, and Planets 323

5 Figure 9 This time lapse photo shows stars revolving around Polaris (indicated by arrow). precession the changing direction of s axis Precession s Wobble If you extend the line of s axis from the North Pole into space, it would pass very close to the star Polaris. This is why Polaris is often referred to as the North Star, or Pole Star. Astronomers call this point in the sky the North Celestial Pole. For anyone living in the northern hemisphere, the entire sky appears to rotate around this one star (Figure 9). Polaris has not always been the pole star. As rotates, its axis slowly turns, pointing in different directions over time. This change in direction of s rotational axis is called precession, and is a motion similar to the wobble of a spinning top. If you watch a spinning top closely, you will see its upper and lower tips trace circles as they wobble (Figure 10). s axis also wobbles and traces a circle every years. Precession will result in the North Celestial Pole pointing near the star Vega in about years and back to Polaris in another years. to Polaris s axis now s axis in approximately years rotation rotation READING TIP Finding the Main Idea The fi rst sentence of a paragraph is called the topic sentence and this is where the main idea usually is stated. For example, the lunar cycle begins with the new moon. Sometimes the fi rst sentence gives an introduction to the topic, so check the second sentence to see if it states the main idea. lunar cycle all of the phases of the Misconception Some people mistakenly believe that the phases of the are caused by s shadow. This is incorrect. The phases of the are caused by how much of the s illuminated surface we can see. Figure 10 Precession of s axis is similar to the wobble of a slowly spinning top. Phases of the The, like all celestial objects in the Solar System, is illuminated by the. However, the illuminated side does not always face, which means that we see different amounts of the lit side as the orbits. Over a period of about 4 weeks, the amount of the illuminated surface of the we see (called phases) follows a predictable pattern. The eight phases of the that we see over this period of time make up the lunar cycle (Figure 11). The lunar cycle begins with the new moon, when the is not visible from. We do not see the during this phase because the side that is illuminated faces away from. After this phase, the illuminated portion of the visible from waxes (increases in size). This occurs during the first half of the lunar cycle. First, we see the waxing crescent a curved sliver of light. About a week after the new moon, the reaches the first quarter phase. This appears as a half moon in the sky because half of the illuminated portion of the is facing. When the waxing gibbous phase arrives, we see more than half of the s illuminated surface. The full moon phase appears as a lit circle in the sky, with the s illuminated side facing. During the second half of the lunar cycle, the illuminated portion of the visible from wanes (decreases in size). The lunar cycle progresses to waning crescent moon and then begins the lunar cycle again. 324 Chapter 8 Our Place in Space NEL

6 (a) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) Figure 11 The phases of the as seen from. (a) New moon (darkened image to represent the new moon, which we cannot see) Waxing crescent (c) First quarter (d) Waxing gibbous (e) Full moon (f) Waning gibbous (g) Third quarter (h) Waning crescent TRY THIS SKILLS: Observing, Communicating, Analyzing MODELLING THE LUNAR PHASES SKILLS HANDBOOK 3.B. You will be creating a model of the system in order to view the cycle through its phases (Figure 12). Figure 12 Equipment and Materials: a lamp with a 40- to 60-watt light bulb (lamp shade removed); polystyrene ball; pencil 1. Choose one person in your group to represent. 2. Have another member of your group stick the pencil into the polystyrene ball. This is the. 3. Turn out the classroom lights and turn on the lamp, which represents the. 4. Ask to stand several metres away from the. 5. Have the revolve around in a counterclockwise direction, while the -bound observer watches the lighted part of the and determines the phases visible as the continues in its orbit. 6. Have each member of your group take a turn being and observing the go through its phases. A. Starting with the new moon phase, use the model to describe the main phase of the during one lunar cycle. T/I B. How could the activity be changed to make the phases of the appear more distinct? T/I Eclipses In the Shadow Eclipses are spectacular astronomical events that occur when the position of one celestial object blocks, or darkens, the view of another celestial object from. Throughout history, these events have been interpreted in different ways by various cultures. Solar eclipses were often associated with bad omens, such as disease epidemics, deaths of kings, and wars. Lunar eclipses were believed by some to be caused by a mythological creature swallowing the. eclipse a darkening of a celestial object due to the position of another celestial object Solar Eclipse The has a diameter 400 times greater than the. It is also 400 times farther from than the is. As a result, the and the appear approximately the same size in the sky. NEL 8.5 Motions of, the, and Planets 325

7 Drift The is slowly drifting away from. As a result, in about 3000 years, a total eclipse will no longer be possible. When the is aligned between and the, it blocks the from being observed from an event that we call a solar eclipse (Figure 13(a)). A solar eclipse is only possible during a new moon phase and is quite rare. During a total solar eclipse, only the outer atmosphere of the, the corona, remains visible. This is because of the relative sizes of the and the in the sky. Total solar eclipses allow scientists to study the s corona (Figure 13). To view a total eclipse from, observers must be located along the lunar shadow path, which is only a few dozen kilometres wide. Figure 14 A partial solar eclipse does not fully block out the and should not be observed Ontario without Science special 10 eye SBprotection FN C08-F15-UCOS9SB CO CrowleArt Group Deborah Crowle Pass Volcanic Eruption 3rd pass Approved In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo, a volcano in the Philippines, erupted in Not Approved the second largest volcanic explosion of the twentieth century. The eruption ejected billions of tonnes of ash and dust high into s atmosphere. This debris circled for more than a year. The lunar eclipses that followed in 1992 were such a deep red that some people saw the eclipsed completely disappear in the sky. (a) s orbit Figure 13 (a) This view of the and, looking down from the North Pole, shows a total eclipse. A total eclipse occurs somewhere on once every two years. During a total eclipse, astronomers can safely study solar fl ares from the without damaging their eyes because the is covered by the. Partial solar eclipses occur when the does not cover the entire (Figure 14). Solar eclipses should be viewed through a suitable solar filter C08-F15-UCOS9SB.ai or by projection, and not with the naked eye. The s powerful rays can damage your eyes when it is not fully hidden behind the. Lunar Eclipse A lunar eclipse occurs when is positioned between the and the, casting a shadow on the (Figure 15(a)). During a total lunar eclipse, the entire passes through s shadow. If only part of the passes through s shadow, a partial lunar eclipse occurs. A lunar eclipse can be seen anywhere on where the is visible above the local horizon. A lunar eclipse can appear orange or red (Figure 15). This colouration is caused by the refraction of sunlight as it passes through s atmosphere. This is also why sunsets appear orange-red. (a) s orbit Figure 15 (a) This view of the and, looking down from the North Pole, shows a total lunar eclipse. A total lunar eclipse can last up to an hour. The colour of the during a total eclipse depends on the amount of dust and clouds in s atmosphere. 326 Chapter 8 Our Place in Space NEL

8 Tides The Pull of the If you have spent much time at an ocean beach, you may have noticed that the beach gets wider or narrower at certain times of the day. This change is due to the rise and fall of the water level, or tides. Tides are the rising and falling of the surface of oceans, and are caused by the gravitational pull of the and, to a lesser extent, the. The s gravitational force pulls and its oceans toward it. This causes a bulge of water to form on the side of facing the. As is pulled toward the, a bulge of water also forms on the opposite side of, where the s gravitational force is weakest. (Figure 16). This results in two high tides and two low tides on each day. The time between low and high tide is approximately six hours. tide the alternate rising and falling of the surface of large bodies of water; caused by the interaction between, the, and the To fi nd out more about tides, GO TO NELSON SCIENCE low tide high tide high tide resulting movement of water low tide Figure 16 When the is directly overhead, coastal areas experience high tide. At the same time, coastal areas on the opposite side of also experience high tide. The regions on between the two tidal bulges experience low tide. The also has an effect on tides, but its tidal effect is much smaller because it is so much farther away than the. During the new and full moon phases of the lunar cycle,, the, and the are aligned. The combined gravitational force of C08-F18-UCOS9SB.ai the and the causes very high tides, called spring tides, to form (Figure 17(a)). When the and the are perpendicular to each other with respect to (during the quarter phases) the gravitational pull of the somewhat counteracts the gravitational pull of the. This forms weaker tides, called neap tides (Figure 17). Bay of Fundy Canada is home to the world s highest tides. The Bay of Fundy, a narrow fi nger of salt water between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, experiences tides that can rise and fall the height of a fourstorey building. Twice a day, 100 billion tonnes of water fl ow into and out of the bay. Researchers hope to one day use this massive daily fl ow of water as a renewable energy source. Science 10 SB C08-F18-UCOS9SB CrowleArt Group Deborah (a) Crowle 3rd pass d roved solar tide lunar tide (new or full) Figure 17 (a) When the, the, and are aligned, spring tides occur. When the and the are on perpendicular sides of, weaker neap tides occur. (quarter phase) solar tide lunar tide NEL C08-F19-UCOS9SB.ai C08-F35-UCOS9SB.ai 8.5 Motions of, the, and Planets 327

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