Why is North up?


 [Continuing on the “Astro Questions” – See LETTERS]

Ha ha. That’s a very good message, Philip !

Neptune I have not the slightest idea (I sound like Patrick!)

All I can say is I think if there are any Neptunians, they must be more confused than both of us together!!


It just occurred to me that this ‘North-Up” thing has spread to our depiction of the whole damn Universe!!

Not only do we draw maps of the Earth with North at the top, but maps of the Solar system are also drawn with this orientation … with all the planets going round ‘clockwise’ as viewed from … yes, the top ! ie North. Even maps of the Galaxy follow this convention .. well, roughly, because Galactic North is some way away from Polaris … but it’s still in the Northern hemisphere. This question is more significant than it first seemed!

I’m going to copy this to my friend Marcus Chown, who always has a good handle on concepts like this.




Dear Gustavo

Many thanks for this message. Great to hear from you (and your English is fabulous, by the way !) This sorts out the Question of Neptune’s North Pole, I guess, but only just !

It’s interesting that this definition of North on a celestial body assumes that “North of the Invariable Plane” has already been defined (as at the top !!!)

I find this very amusing !!

And thanks for the info on the Lunar Reflectors .. I did not know this.

Many thanks for the kind words.

I hope to be in touch further.

All the best

© brianmay.com