Before I die, I want to be nonspinning for a period of time.

Matthew Christopher Bartsh
9 min readAug 16, 2022


We spend our lives spinning because we live on a planet that spins once per 23.9 hours. The only time a person is not spinning at all is when he or she rides a telescope. Astronomers do this sometimes. It’s probably becoming seen as a more and more old fashioned thing to do, because the modern telescopes that astronomers use these days tend to make images on photographic plates or on computer monitors, and there is therefore no need to ride a telescope. So the number of people who are ever nonspinning in their lives is probably going down.

For the same reason, it is probably easier than ever to find a telescope that is capable of being nonspinning and is not booked up. So I plan to get permission to ride on a nonspinning telescope before I die.

Another way to be nonspinning would be to build my own siderostat, and then attach myself to it. In fact, this might be a better way to do it, because a telescope big enough to ride on will not be nonspinning for more than about twelve hours per session, while a custom siderostat can be nonspinning for as long as I want.

I see this as having a spiritual aspect, for want of a better term. I think that I *should* spend part of my life nonspinning. Ideally, while nonspinning, I would contemplate the nonspinning universe, and the distant galaxies, and how everything except me and a handful of other people, and a few manmade objects, like telescopes, spacecraft, satellites and maybe some gyroscopes in laboratories, is spinning (including those distant galaxies). But he universe as a whole is *not* spinning.

The only things in the universe that are not spinning are manmade. There are telescopes that track the “fixed stars”. Such telescopes rest on something called an equatorial mount. They are also known as “siderostats”. They are sidersostatic. It means not rotating with respect to the distant stars, which means not rotating at all. Yes, rotation is not relative, it is absolute. Strictly speaking, to be not rotating at all would mean that you were not rotating with respect to the most distant observable galaxies.

Every naturally occurring thing in the universe is rotating, including the earth, the sun, the Milky Way Galaxy, and every other galaxy. This is because there is no way for an object to be made nonspinning by the distant galaxies. They are too far away to capture the object in rotation. Getting tidally locked by something like the Sun means that you spin at the same rate that you orbit. The same side of the planet would face the sun at all times, as it orbits the Sun. But this is not nonrotation. For that to happen, the same side of the planet would need to face the same distant galaxies at all times, and there is no physical process in the natural world that does this.

Friction will only a make an object spin at the same rate at another object, but that other object will itself be spinning. There’s no friction with the distant galaxies. There are no tidal effects from the distant galaxies.

There are videos showing the Earth spinning in a nonspinning universe, and they are good, but they would be better if they showed, attached to the earth, a nonspinning object, perhaps a person attached to a large siderostat.

Below is a link to my Stack Exchange question and the few comments it attracted that seemed to confirm that there are no naturally occurring siderostats. Below that is a copy paste of the question and comments in case the question gets deleted from Stack Exchange.

Often, a telescope is attached to an equatorial mount with a motor that counteracts the earth’s rotation so that the telescope has no net rotation. It may be designed to counteract the known rotation of the earth, or it may work by tracking the stars or better still, distant galaxies. A third way it could work, in principle, is by sensing any rotation directly with a gyroscope. There has been rapid technological advancement in gyroscopes in recent decades, and now there is a quantum gyroscope that is so sensitive that it could in principle detect minute changes in the rate of the rotation of the earth, according to Wikipedia (

A space or terrestrial telescope can use a gyroscope or tracking of distant stars or galaxies. Mostly it is not distant galaxies, but rather stars that are tracked in order to produce nonrotation, which is not necessarily a problem in practice, but could be a problem when defining “siderostat”, because the tracked stars presumably are rotating with the Milky Way Galaxy (MWG), and possibly there is some additional rotation due to swirling of matter within the MWG, which means that the “siderostat” is not really nonrotating, only nonrotating with respect to the MWG (at best).

Living things can be siderostat at least for short periods. For example, if a person or animal stares at a constellation in the sky, the eye, and possibly the whole head might be siderostat for the duration that that is going on. Again, the eye is not nonrotating unless tracking at least two distant galaxies. Tracking stars only locks the eye to the MWG, which is rotating at a rate of about one turn per quarter billion years (very roughly, ignoring swirling and so on). Anyway, this might disqualify nonhuman living things on Earth from ever being siderostats because they never (in nature) lock their eyes onto a group of separated distant galaxies while ignoring the stars of the MWG, although in principle a living (nonhuman) animal in nature could do that. All it would take would be for rain clouds to cover everything in the sky except a couple of distant galaxies. Then the animal would nothing else to look at, and therefore could plausibly stare at them, especially if it is one of those animals that navigates by the stars.

I’m wondering whether there exists a naturally occurring, inanimate object (aside from the entire universe, which is not what I am asking about) that is , at least at times, siderostat i.e. nonrotating — I don’t mean rotating very slowly, I mean not rotating at all, and not just momentarily. For a period, it would be just like a telescope, whether terrestrial or in space, that locks on to one or more distant galaxies while it takes a long exposure photograph of them.

For example, as pointed out by Rob in his comment, “the Sun’s surface rotates about once per month. But late in its life, the Sun will shed most of its mass as a planetary nebula. That enormous nebula will contain the same angular momentum that the Sun does, but its actual rotation period might be longer than the time it takes to orbit the galaxy’s center”, which is I suppose an example of a natural siderostat especially if the nebula is rotating slower than the MWG. The idea is especially interesting given that most telescope “siderostats” track stars in the MWG, not distant galaxies, and so by that criterion, the Sun nebula would be a siderostat. It’s very interesting and well worth bearing in mind that when a spinning object explodes in space it produces a cloud of fragments that is not rotating. It’s the reverse of when a nebula with negligible rotation condenses to form a star with considerable rotation.

On the other hand, I don’t think this should be considered nonrotation in the context of this question because the point is to find something natural that is locked to the distant galaxies, and not merely rotating at about the same rate as the MWG. The nebula would still be rotating with the MWG (in the sense of orbiting the center of the MWG), which actually doesn’t mean that it would be turning on its own axis once per one quarter billion years. By increasing in radius, the nebula increases its moment of inertia, which means that, because angular momentum must be conserved, the angular velocity is reduced. So this is one way to reduce rotation by as much as one wants, in principle. It is a sort of gyroscope, in effect. Unfortunately, it requires an increase in radius. A spacecraft that was rotating, and had no ordinary gyroscopes, and had no celestial bodies to track, could shoot out objects, wait for them to get far away, and then lock the ship’s rotation on to them (with radar?).

I count the MWG as rotating. On the other hand, like with a telescope, some vibration or other small changes in orientation that do not accumulate over time are okay — they do not disqualify the object from being siderostatic.

If there are no naturally occurring siderostats, that would seem to imply that (sometime) nonrotation is one of the few physics-type distinct properties of artificial and (especially, intelligent) living things. There is currently no evidence for natural optical lasers, but lasing occurs in the radio spectrum in nature and the totalitarian principle ( suggests optical lasers probably also occur.

It seems to require a certain level of intelligence to lock one’s eyes or devices on to a set of distant galaxies, while ignoring the nearby stars, or to build a gyroscope to achieve the same result, or to use one’s knowledge of the rotation of the earth on its axis and that of the MWG build a machine to negate that rotation.

Geomagnetism causes the orientation of a suspended magnet to match that of the earth’s magnet, and allows living things to match their own orientation likewise, improving navigation. Is there anything in the universe that might cause any nonintelligent thing in nature to likewise stop rotating, and absolutely (or relative to the distant galaxies, or the universe, if you prefer)?

cosmology astronomy rotation telescopes gyroscopes







edited Aug 10 at 9:31

asked Aug 7 at 11:03

Matthew Christopher Bartsh

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  • 1
  • Do you have a threshold of “stasis” in mind? For example, the Sun’s surface rotates about once per month. But late in its life, the Sun will shed most of its mass as a planetary nebula. That enormous nebula will contain the same angular momentum that the Sun does, but its actual rotation period might be longer than the time it takes to orbit the galaxy’s center.
  • rob
  • Aug 7 at 11:13
  • @rob Good question. I have edited the question accordingly.
  • Matthew Christopher Bartsh
  • Aug 7 at 12:12
  • 1
  • I take issue with your statement that lasers cannot occur naturally. Lasing occurs naturally in the radio spectrum. (The relationship between the names “laser” and “maser” is too complex for a comment.) There is currently no evidence for natural optical lasers, but the totalitarian principle suggests they probably occur as well.
  • rob
  • Aug 7 at 14:31
  • @rob That’s fascinating. I have edited the question accordingly. Thanks.
  • Matthew Christopher Bartsh
  • Aug 7 at 14:59
  • @rob Would the Sun nebula be likely to be rotating slower than the MWG? Was there any loss of angular momentum by the nebula that the sun formed from, or from the sun after it formed? About how big would the Sun nebula be when its rotation equaled that of the MWG after the explosion?
  • Matthew Christopher Bartsh
  • Aug 10 at 9:34
  • The Sun doesn’t/won’t explode. A planetary nebula is not non-rotating because it is subject to all sorts of torques, not least tidal torquing in the potential gradient of the Galaxy once it becomes large.
  • ProfRob
  • Aug 10 at 10:13
  • @ProfRob If a star is making one turn per thirty days and sheds a planetary nebula, the nebula would rotate slower and slower as it expanded until torquing caused it to start rotating faster. What would be the minimum rate of rotation, and about how big would the nebula be at that time, and how long after shedding would that be?
  • Matthew Christopher Bartsh
  • Aug 10 at 12:10
  • @ProfRob What if the nebula was shed by a star far from any galaxy, and far from any other large masses? The star might be expected to be rotating slower when it sheds the nebula, and the nebula would be able to get very big w/o getting torqued or bent out of shape. I wonder what its slowest rate of rotation might be?
  • Matthew Christopher Bartsh
  • Aug 10 at 12:38

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Matthew Christopher Bartsh

I always follow back. I usually follow anyone who makes an interesting or okay response to one my articles. I often clap. I never give fewer than fifty claps.