Every planet turns to its own beat, and a new animation from a video-savvy scientist shows just how different those rotations are.
James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency (JAXA) and formerly at NASA, spends his free time making animations of space concepts like the history of the moon and the vastness of our solar system.
He recently created a video showing slices of each planet spinning at its own speed — all in one giant globe.
“I had the idea to make this back in December last year but I didn’t think people would be interested in it,” O’Donoghue said on Twitter when he shared a clip of the animation. As of Friday, that version of the video had over 215,000 views.
The animation, below, shows how quickly the planets spin on their axes relative to one another. Jupiter, for example, rotates 2.4 times faster than Earth.
As one commenter pointed out on Twitter, it can be weird to watch Africa and South America making their rounds near the North Pole of this stitched-together globe. Earth’s position falls there, however, because O’Donoghue lined up the planets in their order from the sun, from Mercury to Neptune.
“I picked the slices of latitude of each planet that were most interesting,” he explained.
O’Donoghue picked the piece of Jupiter that has its Great Red Spot, the part of Neptune where its darkest storm brews, and a slice of Saturn that shows high contrast between its clouds.
You might also notice that the strip second from the bottom spins in the opposite direction of the others. That’s Uranus, which is tilted nearly 90 degrees, meaning that it appears to spin on its side and backwards (relative to the other planets).
Venus also spins counterclockwise — it’s the second strip from the top of O’Donoghue’s globe. But the planet rotates so slowly that you can barely tell it’s moving backwards. It takes 243 Earth days for Venus to rotate once.
In the last year, O’Donoghue has created a slew of scientific animations like this. His first were for a NASA news release about Saturn’s vanishing rings. After that, he moved on to other difficult-to-grasp concepts, like the torturously slow speed of light.
“My animations were made to show as instantly as possible the whole context of what I’m trying to convey,” O’Donoghue previously told Business Insider. “When I revised for my exams, I used to draw complex concepts out by hand just to truly understand, so that’s what I’m doing here.”
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