Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Rotation Planet

  • François Forget
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1389-2


All planets rotate around their rotation axes. The rotation period is measured with reference to the distant stars. It is thus also called the sidereal period of rotation, which is different from the duration of the solar day (the time that the Sun takes to go once around the sky as seen from the planet), which is called the synodic period of rotation.


Because of the angular momentum accreted during their formation, all planets tend to rotate around their axes. The rotation rate is measured by the sidereal period of rotation, which is different from the apparent period of rotation of the Sun in the sky because, while the planet rotates, it is also moving around the Sun on its orbit (Table 1).
Table 1

Rotation periods for the eight planets of the solar system and Pluto. Negative periods correspond to retrograde rotation, when the planet appears to rotate in the opposite direction than its orbital revolution around the Sun


Sidereal period

Synodic period = “day”



Orbital Period Rotation Period Habitable Zone Synchronous State Atmospheric Tide 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Correia A, Laskar J (2001) The four final rotation states of Venus. Nature 411:767–770CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Correia A, Levrard B, Laskar J (2008) On the equilibrium rotation of Earth-like extra-solar planets. Astron Astrophys 488(3):L63–L66CrossRefADSzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, UMR 8539Université Paris 6ParisFrance