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The Coriolis Effect on a Cannon Ball Fired from the North Pole

8 Jun 2014, 13:12 UTC
The Coriolis Effect on a Cannon Ball Fired from the North Pole
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Question: High above the north pole, firing a cannonball in the eastern direction confers a velocity in the eastern direction and there is no north, no south, and no west direction given to the cannonball by the cannon.
Gravity pulls on the eastern traveling cannonball in the radial direction towards the center of the earth. When the orbiting cannonball reaches the equator, the velocities are in the eastern direction from the original firing of the cannonball and in the western direction from gravity, but there is no velocity in the south direction. How then does the cannonball continue to travel south? – Hector
Answer: I think that the effect you are trying to describe in this example is the “Coriolis Effect“. The Coriolis Effect produces a deflection of the path of an object within a rotating coordinate system. Note that this path deflection is not real, as it only appears to happen because the coordinate system that establishes a frame of reference for the observer is also rotating. Your cannon ball firing example is a classic example of the Coriolis Effect. To rephrase your experiment, if a cannon ball is fired from the North Pole at a target toward the ...

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