What Direction Does the Earth Rotate?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 12:44:51 PM ET

The Earth rotates in a counter-clockwise direction when an observer looks down on the North Pole. When viewed from the South Pole, the Earth seemingly spins in the opposite direction.


The Earth's axis of rotation leans at an angle of approximately 23.5 degrees, referred to as "obliquity" of the planet's axis. The apparent annual course of the sun through the stars, known as the ecliptic, is tilted with respect to the same angle as the rotational axis of the Earth. As the Earth rotates around its axis, the apparent movement of the stars across space appears to change relative to the location of the observer. As the observer draws near the South Pole, the Earth appears to move in an east-to-west direction, instead of the west-east direction when viewed from the North Pole.