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ERIC Number: EJ996089
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Sep
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0143-0807
Measuring the Eccentricity of the Earth's Orbit with a Nail and a Piece of Plywood
Lahaye, Thierry
European Journal of Physics, v33 n5 p1167-1178 Sep 2012
I describe how to obtain a rather good experimental determination of the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit, as well as the obliquity of the Earth's rotation axis, by measuring, over the course of a year, the elevation of the Sun as a function of time during a day. With a very simple "instrument" consisting of an elementary sundial, first-year students can carry out an appealing measurement programme, learn important concepts in experimental physics, see concrete applications of kinematics and changes of reference frames, and benefit from a hands-on introduction to astronomy. (Contains 6 figures and 4 footnotes.)
Institute of Physics Publishing. The Public Ledger Building Suite 929, 150 South Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215-627-0880; Fax: 215-627-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A