Zyra's website //// Clocks //// Time //// The Earth //// Infrequently Asked Questions //// Site Index

A clockWhy do clocks go round clockwise?

Traditionally, clocks with hands that go round on dials to tell the time, always go round that way round, known as "clockwise". But why?

It's not obvious, and clocks could equally have mechanisms which rotate the opposite way round. But it has been decided that's the way round the clocks should go, and the convention is mostly adhered to.

The reason "clockwise" was chosen that way was not arbitrary, and has a historical basis. Clocks were invented in the Northern hemisphere and were made to go round the same way as sundials.The Planet Earth The shadow on a sundial in the Northern hemisphere goes round clockwise because of the way the sun goes round in the sky. The reason the sun appears to go round the way it does is because the earth goes round anticlockwise when viewed from space looking at the North Pole.

There have been rumours that the Earth's Poles are going to Flip, and although it's going to happen, sooner or later, it's important to know it is the magnetic poles that are going to change, not the rotational poles, or anything much to do with the angle of tilt of the Earth's axis.

If earth history had been radically different and the Southern hemisphere had been the initial home of early technology including clocks, then clocks would go round the other way, to match up with sundials in the Southern hemisphere. That (anticlockwise/counterclockwise) direction would now be called "clockwise". Also, globes of the earth would be the other way up,Earth the other way up with the South pole at the top. (As ween in this image provided by Toxic Drums at the page www.toxicdrums.com/roaming-zyras-web-site.html !)

The use of the words "clockwise" and its opposite "anticlockwise" or "counterclockwise" have become entrenched in the language associated with ticktocks and it's tricky to talk about these things to do with rotary directionality without using them, but there is an alternative in a Pagan tradition in which "Widdershins" is the equivalent of "anticlockwise" and "Deosil" is "clockwise". Deosil means the direction of the sun. Widdershins is t'other way round, being an ancient idea of Alternative

but it goes round the other way!and here's another way it doesn't rotateJust for fun, here are a couple of ways the earth doesn't go round.