Which way are we looking? Updated.

My thanks to Mark Evans who not only flew over from Oman for a course, but also sent me this great time lapse photo from Oman.

Mark is the General Manager of Outward Bound Oman, which does not sound like the worst job in the world to me! Outward Bound Oman, under Mark’s leadership, is teaching young Omanis many outdoor skills, including traditional methods of desert navigation.

Time for a bit of fun. Which way are we looking in this picture and why?

by email please. I’ll post the correct answer in a couple of days.

Update.12/05/11.

We are looking just south of west. approx 255 degrees. Orion's belt can be seen setting about one third the way in from the right. The arcing to the right is anticlockwise around the North Celestial Pole, to the left the stars are arcing clockwise around the South Celestial Pole. The few stars that appear to be moving in a straight line are marking the celestial equator and where they cross the horizon (the imaginary sea level one) will be due west.

One way we can tell it is west, not east, is because of the shape of Orion: the bright orange Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice) of the hunter's top left shoulder is above his belt. Other stars visible include the brightest of the lot, Sirius (half way in and low), Procyon (half way in and high), Castor and Pollux (top right, behind tent cord) among others.

Well done to those who got it. Better luck to those who were only out by 180 degrees, bizarre though it sounds you were closer to the right answer than if you had said north or south.

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For a complete guide to Natural Navigation read Tristan’s books.