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image: rotating EarthEarth's Rotation Proved
8 January 1851

Elvis Presley was born on the 8 January 1935

On 8 January 1851, using a device known as Foucault's pendulum, Frenchman Léon Foucault demonstrated that the Earth rotates on its axis. He discovered that if a long pendulum with a heavy weight was set swinging, the plane in which it was swinging would appear to rotate.

What is a Foucault pendulum?

A Foucault pendulum is, like any other pendulum, a weight attached to a wire. To work well it needs to have a very long wire, with a really heavy weight.

How did Léon Foucault prove that the Earth rotates?

He suspended a heavy iron ball from a 200 ft (61 m) wire, creating a pendulum, from the dome of the Pantheon in Paris. He put sand underneath the pendulum, and placed a pin on the bottom of the ball, so it would leave a mark on its swing from side to side. On each swing, over the course of 24 hours, the mark in the sand would move to the right. The direction in the path showed movement of the earth against the swing of the pendulum.

image: right tilt
The Earth rotates about its axis

The Earth's tilt and the Seasons

The Earth's axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees. This means that the Earth is always "pointing" to one side as it goes around the Sun. So, sometimes the Sun is in the direction that the Earth is pointing, but not at other times. The varying amounts of sunlight around the Earth during the year, creates the seasons.

Foucault invented the gyroscope in 1852.


Watch an animation of the Earth rotating

Why do we have Seasons?

Why do we have day and night?


Also on this day.......

8 January 1800: London opened its first soup kitchens for the poor.

8 January 1935: Elvis Presley, ''The King of Rock n Roll', born in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA. He was an American singer, musician, and actor who was one of the first performers of Rock n Roll and one of the greatest rock n roll singers of all time. He also starred in dozens of films.
Read about Elvis here

8 January, 1940 : Great Britain introduces Food Rationing using ration books containing coupons for bacon, butter and sugar.
Find out about war time rationing here

8 January 1942: Stephen W. Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist, was born in Oxford, England.He is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity.

8 January 2004: The Cunard RMS Queen Mary 2 / QM2 the largest, longest, widest, tallest and most expensive passenger ship ever built up to that time is Christened by Queen Elizabeth II at Southampton Docks.


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