Motion of the Sky

6.14 - Understand the diurnal motion of the sky due to the Earth’s rotation

Astronomical objects in the sky move through the course of the day and night and move position through the course of the year.

Imagine you are facing south. Now think of a ball moving from left to right (east to west). This is the direction the Sun appears to move in the sky.

We know the Earth goes around the Sun and not the other way around.

Let us imagine the ball hangs in the air. How would you have to move your head to ‘see’ the ball moving from east to west? You would have to move from west to east.

If you hovered above the Earth, above the North Pole, you would see the Earth move counterclockwise.



Explain why the sky appears to move from east to west when we know the Earth rotates.

Top Tip

Diurnal = Daytime
Nocturnal = Nightime


Courtney Seligman, Professor of Astronomy The Motion of the Sky at Different Latitudes