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A clockwise

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1 A clockwise on Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:18 pm

Before clocks were commonplace, the terms "sunwise" and deiseil (from the Scottish Gaelic language from the same root as the Latin dexter, "right". This word is also used for "ready".) were used for clockwise. (Of course, deasil (righthandwards) is only sunwise in the Northern Hemisphere.) 'Widdershins' or 'withershins' (from Middle Low German weddersinnes, "opposite course") was used for anticlockwise.


The anticlockwise or counterclockwise direction
Actually, the terms clockwise (abbreviated CW) and anticlockwise (ACW) can only be applied to a rotational motion once a side of the rotational plane is specified, from which the rotation is observed. For example, the daily rotation of the Earth is anticlockwise when viewed from above the North Pole, and clockwise when viewed from above the South Pole.
Clocks traditionally follow this sense of rotation because of the clock's predecessor: the sundial. Clocks with hands were first built in the Northern Hemisphere (see main article), and they were made to work like sundials. In order for a horizontal sundial to work (in the Northern Hemisphere), it must be placed looking southward. Then, when the Sun moves in the sky (east to south to west), the shadow cast on the opposite side of the sundial moves with the same sense of rotation (west to north to east). That's why hours were drawn in sundials in that manner, and that's why modern clocks have their numbers set in the same way. Note, however, that on a vertical sundial (such as those placed on the walls of buildings), the shadow moves in the opposite direction, and some clocks were constructed to mimic this. The best-known surviving example is the astronomical clock in the M√ľnster Cathedral, whose hands move anticlockwise.

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