8A70.55 - Rotational Banding/Planetary Atmospheres

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Rotational Banding/Planetary Atmospheres
Atmospheres of Planets
Area of Study:

The large globe is permanently attached to the lazy susan and can be used "as is".  However, smoother operation can be had by centering the whole unit on the rotating air table.

Place the adaptor, Plexiglas stand, and the Pyrex stand on the air table.  Rotational banding should become apparent when the air table is set in motion.

Rheoscopic fluid is the choice when it comes to making the flow patterns stand out.  Hand soap that has glycerol stearate in it will also show nice flow patterns when mixed with water.  Glycerol distearate does not work as well.

Video and web images are available from spacecraft and telescope data.  Choose those that are most appropriate for your session.

The powered globe has a stirrer that turns on and off periodically.  Banding will be observed throughout the class period if a camera is focused on this demo.

  • Gordon McIntosh, "Wind in the Solar System", TPT, Vol. 48, #2, Feb. 2010, p. 94.
  • Elizabeth Griffin, "Measuring Terrestrial Ozone from Historic Astronomical Spectra", TPT, Vol. 47, # 1, Jan. 2009, p. 22.
  • Stephen J. Van Hook and Michael F. Schatz, "Simple Demonstrations of Pattern Formation", TPT, Vol. 35, # 7, Oct. 1997, p. 391. 
  • John Zinn, "Stratospheric Cooling and the Tropical Belt", Physics Today, Aug. 2015, p. 12.
  • Thomas Bimer, Sean M. Davis, Dian J. Seidel, "The Changing Width of Earth's Tropical Belt", Physics Today, Dec. 2014, p. 38.
  • Janice VanCleave, "Atmospheric Circulation", Geography for Every Kids: Easy Activities that Make Learning Geography Fun, p. 145.

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