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New Royal Society Paper on Earth Rotation

A new paper by F.R. Stephenson, L.V. Morrison and C.Y. Hohenkerk, presents new determinations of Earth Rotation from 720 BC to AD 2015

A Babylonian clay tablet
Credit: Courtesy British Museum © The Trustees of the British Museum

A new paper by F.R. Stephenson, L.V. Morrison and C.Y. Hohenkerk, “Measurement of the Earth’s rotation: 720 BC to AD 2015” in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, presents new determinations of Earth Rotation (Delta T).

Today, Delta T is the difference between Terrestrial Time (TT) and Universal Time (UT1). It is a measure of the difference between a time scale based on the rotation of the Earth (UT1) and an idealised uniform timescale at the surface of the Earth (TT). TT is currently realised from International Atomic Time. Before atomic time, Ephemeris Time was used as the uniform timescale based on Newcombe’s Tables of the Sun. In order to predict the circumstances of an event on the surface of the Earth, such as the circumstances of a solar eclipse, a prediction of Delta T must be made for the instant of observation.

Further details and a link to the article can be found on HMNAO’s web pages together with a list of FAQs.

Definitions of technical terms may be found in the Glossary section of The Astronomical Almanac Online.

Published 15 December 2016