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23 Degrees' first post: We are all on the journey together

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Stephen Marsh Stephen Marsh | 14:11 UK time, Monday, 3 January 2011

d ~ 7'718'400 km: day 3

Though we may not realise it we are all on a unique and extraordinary journey - our annual 940 million kilometre [584 million mile] voyage around our sun. Each and every one of us is sitting on a giant lump of rock, the Earth, that's hurtling through space at 107,200 kilometres [66,700 miles] an hour and spinning like a giant top.

Earth and the Sun

Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Centre - ISS007E10807

For the next year we are going to follow that epic journey for a whole orbit - a single year. From our unique perspective in space we will see how gigantic forces like the tilt of the Earth and its spin determine our climate and influence the life cycle of every living thing on the planet. We will discover how the special characteristics of our journey around the sun create the seasons, power the most spectacular weather on the planet, and even dictate how we live our lives.

But we can't do this journey without you. We can't be everywhere on the planet so please let us know what is happening in your neck of the woods. If you capture cool clips of weather in motion or want to share your photography, please email us. Let us know what's happening where you are - is there a storm brewing? Are you experiencing floods? Or is there a meteor shower? Be our eyes and ears. This is a global adventure and we want you to join us for the ride.

For example, we are going to visit the coldest place in North America, a place so cold that if you were trapped outside you'd freeze to death in a few hours. We'll be travelling to the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth; so arid that in some places it hasn't rained for hundreds of years. We are also journeying to the southernmost tip of South America to sail round Cape Horn. It's one of the windiest places on the planet and the vicious winds blow all year round.

Later in the year we are visiting the Temple of Kukulkan, at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to learn about our ancestor's relationship with the sun. The Mayans built this temple sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries AD and its one of the wonders of the planet. The temple has 365 steps, one for each day of the year and when the sun rises on the spring equinox in March it highlights a sculpture of a plumed serpent carved into the side of the temple.

We are also travelling to Greenland to discover why sea ice melts so long after the land has warmed up and to India to learn what triggers the largest weather event on the planet, the Indian Monsoon. We start our journey on the summit of Aonach Mor in Scotland to learn about our elliptical orbit

But this series isn't just about the weather. It's also about all the other ways in which our journey through space affects the planet. We're all familiar with the idea that we live within the protective embrace of our atmosphere, but looked at another way, we also live inside the atmosphere of the sun; we're continually bombarded by its radiation, we feel the force of the solar wind, and small changes in what you might call the sun's "weather" can have big impacts here on Earth.

As we journey around the planet we will build up a picture of how Earth's weather changes as the planet journeys around the sun. And learn how every cloud, every rain drop, every snowflake, every bit of weather we see and feel is determined by the cosmic dance we make with our star.

But as Billy Connolly says; "there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes".

Stephen Marsh is the Series Producer for 23 Degrees


  • Comment number 1.

    This is a great opportunity to once more demonstrate the exceptional value of the license fees. A year of anticipation.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dear Ronnie,

    Thank you for your comment. We are all really excited and privileged to be taking this journey. And what makes it so much fun is that we are doing it with the other 6 billion people on the planet. That's why we have started a blog - we want to bring as many people as we can together on this journey. It's going to be very exciting, entertaining and informative. I am learning new stuff each day. Today I found out about positive lightning - a bolt from the blue that can strike several kilometres away from the thunderstorm. And last week about a coronal hole in the sun's surface that blasted out a stream of solar wind blasting towards earth. Pretty scary stuff. Enjoy the blog and if you take photos of any exciting weather please do send them in to us.

    Cheers stephen

  • Comment number 3.

    Stephen, I'm really looking forward to seeing this series.
    I've always been fascinated by the whole subject. How the Earth and other planets move around the Sun, how the stars move in the galaxies and in turn how those galaxies move around the universe, but that's more cosmology than meteorology. Not too far removed, though.

    From a cosmic level to an atomic level, it's all about speed - something orbiting something. I wish I'd taken more interest in Physics at school :(

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Stephen,

    I think this program concept is a great idea. It is sort of local astronomy.

    It is hard to believe we are spinning around on the surface of a planet, at up to 1600 km/h, and the planet in turn is traveling around the sun at around 30 km/s.



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