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Desert Diary
Physics/New Year's Day


Head spinning? No wonder. And I'm not thinking hangover. We're moving through space in a head-swirling variety of directions. As the earth rotates, we're carried along—whirled around at hundreds of miles an hour. But if that's not enough to make you dizzy, remember that while the earth rotates, it's also revolving around the sun at well over half a billion miles per year. It's this trip around the sun, of course, that we use to measure off a year's worth of time. For reasons of culture rather than of nature, we've picked the start of today to mark the end of one circuit and the beginning of another. But don't go away, because we're not done moving yet.

The sun and all of its satellites, including Earth, are rotating around the Milky Way Galaxy in an unimaginably huge orbit taking some 225 million years. Enough? Not quite. It seems that our whole galaxy also is rushing through space.

Remember the story about the person who, in a frenzy, rushed off in all directions at once? Sound familiar?
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Stellar formation in NGC 3603

One view of the universe through which we're rushing in so many ways at once. Image courtesy of NASA (Stellar formation in NGC 3603).



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