Translational Movement Definition

Serena Cuoghi
Title of Professor of Biology

The phenomenon of translation refers to the uniform linear movement that an object can have through space when moving from one place to another. In the case of the planets belonging to a solar system, this movement is generated around a star as a consequence of its gravitational force, producing an elliptical or semicircular trajectory, as is the case with our blue planet. The Earth moves in an elliptical way around the sun, without changing the direction of its trajectory or its speed, providing with this constancy the possibility of having predictable climatic variations to a certain extent and the diversity in the distribution of exposure to the sun’s rays both in quantity and intensity.

From the context of physics, this phenomenon is one of the three types of movements that objects can experience, the other two being: rotation about the object’s own axis, and vibration.


The process occurs at an approximate speed of 30 km/s, for which 365 days, 6 hours and about 15 minutes are required to make a complete turn around our central star, a period of time that we call a year. During this time, the sun is at its closest and furthest points from Earth, known as perihelion and aphelion respectively.

The variation in distance between the Earth and the sun, as a result of the elliptical orbit that it travels, causes very notable changes in the climate of each area of ​​the Earth, since the seasons of the year are generated as a consequence of the fact that throughout this whole ellipse, the planet is exposed to the sun’s rays in a different way, because it is closer to some places than others, making in turn due to the terrestrial inclination that the area of ​​the Northern hemisphere receives a greater amount of light and heat than the of the southern hemisphere. In addition, the movement of translation influences other natural processes such as tides, the length of days and nights, and the way in which living beings adapt to their environment.

different rays of sun

The sun’s rays affect the Earth in many ways. 1) In the first place, they are the main source of energy that has made possible the existence of life on Earth, because their heat and energy allow the process known as photosynthesis, by most autotrophic organisms; 2) at the same time, heat from the Sun produces warm temperatures on the Earth’s surface, which help keep Earth’s temperature levels in an optimal range for life; 3) the sun’s rays contribute to the existence of the winds generated in the air masses by means of their currents, producing as a consequence atmospheric phenomena such as storms; and 4) the sun’s rays also influence the behavior of the oceans, through evaporation and precipitation, as well as the generation of movements between the masses of water with currents also produced by temperature differences, in addition to the phenomenon of variation of the tides induced by the translation that the moon experiences around the Earth.

Day and night with another matter

On the other hand, the phenomenon of the earth’s rotation, through which the planet rotates constantly on its own axis, is one of the main causes of the existence of so much life and also why it is so varied.

The rotation of the Earth, product of the effect of the planet’s own electromagnetic field, gives us day and night, which have a different duration as a direct consequence of the translation movement and the variation that this generates on the already described incidence of the Sun rays.

Day and night in the equatorial region of the earth maintain a greater parity of hours than that experienced towards the poles. The Earth takes about 24 hours to complete one rotation on itself. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west each evening as a result of this rotation, providing daylight in all parts of the planet at different times, which also helps regulate the temperature of the planet’s surface through of the change in exposure to the heat source, being that the greatest importance of the phenomena of the movement of translation and rotation of our planet is to have created the energetic dynamics necessary for the sustenance of life as we know it.


Garcia, S. (2011). Sun, Earth and Moon. Relative movements and their consequences. Eureka Magazine on teaching and dissemination of science, 8, 512-518.

Paschini, M. & Tommasiello, M. (2017). Rotation and translation of the Earth: a study in what is taught and what you see. Communications, 24(1), 113-124.

Plasencia, E., Matos, L., Posadas, A., & Cabrera, C. (2007). Hourly estimate of total extraterrestrial solar irradiance. Journal of the Research Institute of the Faculty of Mines, Metallurgy and Geographical Sciences, 10(19), 72-77.


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