How do we know the Earth is moving, and not the Sun?
How fast is the Earth spinning? (How many miles or kilometers an hour?)
Position a globe so that light from the Sun shines on it in just the same way that sunlight shines on the Earth. As the Earth spins, the boundaries between “day” and “night” will move steadily across both your globe and the Earth. Follow these instructions to position your globe.
Over the course of the day, compare the light on your globe to the light shown on this interactive map.
A more detailed version of this activity can be found at Earth Learning Ideas.
To track the movement of sunlight on Earth, you need a windowsill in the sun, a small mirror, and sticky notes. Place the mirror on the windowsill so that it reflects sunlight onto a wall. Write the time on a sticky note and place it in the spot of light.
Have students predict where the spot of light will be in 15 minutes and mark that spot with a sticky note. While you wait to see if the prediction is right, have students discuss why they chose the spot they did.
As the Earth turns, the angle of the sunlight on the mirror changes and the spot of light moves.
Use these time-lapse videos of sunrise and sunset to review what students know. Here are some discussion questions: * Why does it look like the Sun is moving? * Which way would you face to look in the direction of the Sun in the morning? In the middle of the day? In the afternoon? * Do any other objects in the sky seem to move in the same way as the Sun? Explain. * Does the Sun really move this fast? Why do you think it looks like it's moving fast in the video?