Clockwise, Anti-clockwise or Neither?
The Sun is the centre of our Solar System and everything in our Solar System revolves around it. Energy from the Sun’s core, in the form of sunlight, is responsible for supporting almost all life on Earth, as well as regulating Earth’s temperature and weather. Without the Sun’s energy, life as we know it on Earth could not exist.
Many of the world’s calendars use the Earth’s orbit around the Sun to measure the passage of time. The solar year is the time taken for the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun, which is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to be precise.
The Earth turns from west to east and it is this movement that makes the Sun appear to rise and set. It is us standing where we are that is constantly being turned by the Earth. The Earth can appear to orbit around the Sun in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, it just depends on where you are viewing from Earth.
In both the southern and northern hemispheres, the Sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west. In the southern hemisphere when looking north towards the equator, the Sun appears to move from right to left, or anti-clockwise. In the northern hemisphere looking towards the equator, the Sun appears to move from left to right, or clockwise.
Direction, however, is about perspective. Our frame of reference is usually that of one’s orientation on Earth, with the planet’s poles giving us reference points for north, south, east and west. This is more difficult in the weightless realm of space, when gravity cannot define up or down. Above and below, and left and right become subjective qualities based on nearby celestial objects and areas.
The direction of North being ‘up’ is also scientifically arbitrary. Some of the very earliest Egyptian maps show south as ‘up’. In the Middle Ages many maps were drawn with east at the top. The standard world map we are accustomed to (Mercator projection) represents north as up and south as down, however it inflates the size of countries away from the equator. UNESCO promotes the Gall-Peters equal area map projection. It avoids exaggerating the size of developed nations in Europe and North America and reducing the size of less developed countries in Asia, Africa and South America. The following YouTube is a great account of how we view the world from top and bottom perspectives Gall--Peters Projection - YouTube. Watch through to the end (4 minutes) to see Australia placed at the 'top'.