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Earth Sciences
North Pole
Planet Earth

How was it decided which of Earth's poles is the top?


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January 11, 2011 10:36AM

It is of course absolutely either way, but when globes and maps were first made, the globe and mapmakers were all on the top of the globe or map--in Europe. Even very early mapmakers were north of the equator.


Also, if you check a globe (in my opinion an absolutely indispensible tool-- I use mine several times a week) you will see that the great bulk of the earth's land mass is north of the equator. This is just an accident of continental drift. It is also why some map projections expand the northern hemisphere, at the expense of territories to the south.

There is no such thing as top and bottom in space and in the universe. Top and bottom are concepts that relate to objects on the earth's surface which are affected by gravity.

Gravity pulls objects toward the centre of the planet earth. Their point closest to the earth's surface, is called the 'bottom' of the object. A model of planet earth with the outline of all the land masses drawn upon it, would be just as valid if it was made with Alaska shown near the bottom and Tasmania shown near the top of the model 'globe'.