Does the Sun spin? Yes, very slowly! Does the Sun orbit anything? Yes, it does! Find out facts about how our Sun moves!
Does the Sun Spin?
Yes, the Sun rotates! The Sun is the center of our solar system, but it doesn’t stay in one place.
How Quickly Does the Sun Rotate?
The Sun moves ver-r-r-y slowly!
The Sun spins or rotates on its axis in the same direction as Earth (counterclockwise, when looking down from the north pole).
Because it is a gas, it does not rotate like a solid. Different sections rotate at different speeds!
The Sun actually spins faster at its equator than at its poles.
At the surface, the area around the equator rotates once about every 24 days. The Sun’s north and south poles rotate more slowly. It can take those areas more than 30 days to complete one rotation.
We know this by watching the motion of sunspots and other solar features move across the Sun. The giant gas planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, also spin faster at their equators than at their poles.
Does the Sun Orbit Anything?
Yes! The Sun orbits around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, which is a spiral galaxy. It’s located about two-thirds of the way out from the center of the Milky Way which is about 28,000 light–years away. (A light-year is about 5.88 trillion miles.)
And it’ not just only our Sun orbiting. Our entire solar system—which contains our Sun, planets, moon, asteroid, and comets—orbits the center of the Milky Way.
We are moving at an average velocity of 828,000 km/hr. Even at that high rate, it takes the Sun about 230 million years to go around the galaxy once! One journey around the Milky Way galaxy is sometimes called a cosmic year.
The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
–Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer (1564–1642)