Is the angle of the axis that the earth rotates on created by or affected by the sun?

1 Answer
Jul 12, 2016

Although the angle of the Earth's axis of rotation is not created by the sun, it is affected by the sun's gravity causing it to precess.


The angle of the Earth's axis of rotation is not created by the sun. It is a result of the residual angular momentum of the materials that coalesced to create the planet, and other events since that time, such as collisions, etc. The planets of the solar system have a wide range of angles and rotation directions:

The angle of the axis is affected by the sun, through a process known as precession . This precession is caused by the torque applied to the planet by the sun's gravity.


This causes the direction of the axis to move in a circle when viewed by an observer on the Earth. To the Earth-bound observer, the axis of rotation is viewed as the direction of the pole. The following picture shows how the north pole has shifted position through our view of the stars through the years (-2000 = 200 B.C., +2000 = 2000 A.D.). Right now, at 2016 A.D. the north pole points very near the star Polaris which is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper .