Throwback Thursday: Measure The Earth’s Axial Tilt This Solstice (Synopsis)

“Soon the earth will tilt on its axis and begin to dance to the reggae beat to the accompaniment of earthquake. And who can resist the dance of the earthquake, mon?” –Peter Tosh

But it isn't true that the Earth's axial tilt will change, is it? Or rather, if it did, how would you know? Believe it or not, measuring the tilt of the Earth about its axis is one of the easiest things to do, and all you need to know is your latitude, which you can either measure during the equinox or look up absolutely anywhere...

Image credit: Image credit:

and then to perform one of the simplest measurements possible on the solstice, which is coming up this Saturday! If you want to disprove one of the most common (and wrong) conspiracy theories running around on the web, you need a device that's no more complicated than a board with a stick in it... or if your ground is flat enough, a vertical stick alone.

Image credit: Bora Shin. Image credit: Bora Shin.

Go find out how to do it, and calculate the tilt of the Earth yourself!

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Why is it said that some planets are tilted more than 90 degrees? There is no such thing as a "north" direction given by anything else than convention. Apart from Venus's unique clockwise rotation, why not say 3 degrees instead of 177 degrees? Same applies to others.

By Rafael Bernal (not verified) on 19 Jun 2015 #permalink

Equinox, axial tilt.......Ethan what's the latest on the cosmological alignment of the ecliptic affair, any idea?

Why are scientists avoiding this? I thought everyone was desperate for a deviation from the standard model? That's a big one!

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 19 Jun 2015 #permalink

"There is no such thing as a “north” direction given by anything else than convention. "


Why is this a problem?

"Why are scientists avoiding this?"

For the same reason they avoid the invisible pink unicorns making the moon wobble.

They'd rather not get any insanity on them.

Terrific article. I came up with 23.5 degrees using a metre and a half gatepost. It was very interesting tracking the shadow ovet a few hours.

By Peter Vogel (not verified) on 21 Jun 2015 #permalink

The tilt of the planets is determined by the orbital plane. Consider the orbital plane as XY and the rotational axis as Z. Z will be 90 degrees to XY and the tilt is measured as the offset angle. By tradition we assign the N axis of the planets to the closest axis to Earth's N. This has nothing to do with the actual magnetic fields of those planets but to use a consistent set of terms.