Why can’t we see the Earth spinning from space?


Same for the ISS…it looks like it’s standing still but it’s actually moving. Why is that?

In: 0

You can view it.

[Here is a film from Galileo spacecraft 1990](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVuqcEuIRgs)

Things that may make it look at though you can’t see it:

* It is moving relatively slowly. You can’t see the hour hand move on a clock, yet it moves.
* Any space ship is also moving, so what are you seeing it move relative to?

Because it’s spinning really slowly, as the earth completes one rotation every 24 hours, it is in fact slower than the hour hand on an analog watch

The iss is spinning quite a bit faster around the earth at one revolution every 90 minutes, still pretty slow to notice, 3 times slower than the minute hand

You can, it’s just a factor of time. If you look at a 10sec clip you won’t see anything. IF you look at a 10hour clip you will see the earth rotate about (10/24 = 41) 41% of the way around. IF you look at a 10 day clip, then it will rotate 10 times.

The ISS circles the Earth at around 8000 metres per second. At the equator, the earth spins at around 500 metres per second. So the ISS is about 14 times faster than the earth’s spin. To see the earth spin from the ISS, you would need it to slow down considerably. Like when you’re driving on the highway and see a person walking next to it. You’re going so much faster than them that they might as well be standing still as far as you can tell.

From the ISS, you can totally see it orbiting.
It only takes an hour and half to make one orbit around the earth.
[Here’s a live video.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-ngXpZKHvI)

As for the Earth from saaay the moon. It would literally take all day to see it spin, since it only makes one revolution per 24 hours.

Earth spine once per 24 hours. This is half the speed of the hour hand on a clock, it is not fast at all. To see earth motion from far away you need to speed up the film or what is for long times,

ISS orbits Earth once in 90 minutes which is 16 times per day. Earth rotates in the same directions ISS orbits so the difference you see from earth rotation at a moment is close to a speed reduction to 15/16=93%. So the ground below ISS move at 93% of the speed as it would move if the earth did not rotate.

You can compare it to if you drive on a road and there is a touch beside you. Look a the truck as a passenger and your field of view can be filed with it and it all looks like there is no motion at all.

To see earth’s rotation you have to look at it from a point that do not move relative to earth like from the DSCOVR that orbits in between earth and the sun. You can see the earth rotate in images from it. You will see the side that is illuminated by the sun all the time because of the satellite’s position. https://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/

It comes down to a question of linear speed versus angular speed. The linear speed of the Earth’s rotation is some 1670 km/h: over a thousand miles per hour. This seems quite fast, and it is. But the Earth is so big that it takes 24 hours to complete a single revolution, and in terms of angular speed that’s actually very slow.

The hands on a clock are a very good analogy. It’s very hard to see the minute hand on a clock moving unless you’re up very close, and it spins 24 times a day. The hour hand moves one-twelfth as fast as this, spinning twice a day, and it’s basically impossible to see moving without a microscope. And the Earth is only half as fast as that.

The ISS, as some have noted, is faster, taking some 90 minutes to orbit the Earth. But this is still about a third slower than the minute hand on a clock, which is already very hard to catch moving. So it’s harder to catch the Earth spinning under the ISS than it is to catch that minute hand spinning.