Entries tagged "latitude"
Shipwrecks is a three-part series on BBC4, presented by naval historian, Dr. Sam Willis. And it sets out to do what BBC4 does best. It compensates for a lack of Hollywood budget by treating the viewer as intelligent. Rare and radical.
BBC4 as a whole is extraordinary. I can only imagine the guts it took for some soul to march, with quickening heart, into a meeting and suggest that of the 60 odd million people living in this country, there might be a few thousand who don't consider Hello Magazine to be news. I salute…
Have you ever noticed how fat people tend to feel the cold less than skinny people?
Have you also noticed how it gets colder as your latitude increases?
Are you ready for a long sentence with too many uses of the word 'idea'?
One of the most interesting ideas about new ideas is that there is no such thing as a new idea, the idea being that a new idea is just two old ideas connected in a new way. You get the idea?
In 1847, the…
In the desert of western Peru there are the remnants of a civilization that still holds many mysteries.
Archaeoastromomers are able to deduce a few things about the ancient complex at Chankillo, from the alignment of 13 towers.
The towers form a north-south line, but this is not that unusual in ancient buildings. The thing that sets these towers apart is the fact that they span the annual range of sunrise, from winter or June solstice (northernmost tower) to summer or December solstice (southern tower), when viewed from a certain point.
There is a good view…
This really is one of the best astronomical photographs I have ever come across. It is amazing even before you notice that the sea is glowing with bioluminescent algae.Congratulations Sim on taking this fantastic photograph and allowing me to share it and thanks Mark for sending it my way.To celebrate this great pic, I thought a little quiz would be fun. Or to be more precise, several shades of the same question...To make this more interesting I'm going to give you the opportunity to test yourselves at the level you feel most comfortable with. Anyone who has been on my…
In this photo, one of the Outward Bound Oman instructors, who I visited recently, is being taught how to use a traditional and beautifully simple navigational instrument called a 'kamal'.
This instrument is as simple as they get: it works by forming a triangle. If you know the base of a triangle (the fixed length of twine from eye to instrument) and you know the height of the triangle (the number of fingers counted up from the horizon), then you have a fixed angle to the horizon. This is the ancestor of nearly all navigational instruments prior to…
As promised, here is a more detailed update on my short time in Oman last week. My main reason for being there was to train the Omani Outward Bound instructors. In the short time available I wanted to give them a decent understanding of how to use nature's clues to find their way in the desert. Just as importantly, I needed to give them the techniques and knowledge they could pass onto their future students.
We started with theory indoors at the offices of Outward Bound Oman, with the help of planetarium software and makeshift whiteboards (paper…
Another very enjoyable Beginner's Guide to Natural Navigation course at the Royal Geographical Society yesterday. The diversity of interests and experiences never fails to amaze me; from desert wanderers to cruise ship sailors and even a sailor from a tall ship in the Pacific. Wonderful!It was a beautiful full moon last night and I got to experiment with a new lens that I have bought. Still a long way to go until I take a photo of the moon that I am happy with, but always learning which is satisfying.The phase of the moon appears the same all over…
...with a little help from the sun.An interesting article on the BBC website today about the seasonal habits of Puffins.The most interesting thing other than learning more about the puffins' whereabouts was the method they used for understanding where the birds were at any one time. Using 'geolocator tags' that logged the time of sunrise, sunset the research team were able to deduce their location.'The loggers work by measuring light levels, recording when dawn and dusk occurs each day.With this data, researchers can calculate day length, when midday occurs, and the daily longitudinal and latitudinal co-ordinates for the individual…
Last night, looking west through some tree branches, I took this picture of the orange star, Arcturus. It is one of the five brightest stars in the night sky and is part of the constellation Bootes. It is in fact the brightest star in the northern half of the celestial sphere.It is navigationally interesting because of its declination or 'celestial latitude'. At 19 degrees north it passes overhead a lot of major cities, including Honolulu, Mumbai and Mexico City.The easiest way to find Arcturus is to follow the the handle of the Plough on its curved path away from the…
I took this photo in St Peter Port, Guernsey, about ten days ago. This big fat gin palace probably doesn't get lost very often, all they need do is squint at the setting sun through their ice cold sundowners, think about the season and latitude, then wait for the blue to turn black and the stars to appear. Or they could just turn on one of the many lovely gizmos sprouting all over the top of the boat. GPS would do it, radar would too, or they could make a satellite call and 'phone a friend'.
Sticking with a midsummer theme for another day, I came across this picture today. It was taken in a place called Uttakleiv in northern Norway. The time lapse shows how the sun does get lower, the angle being directly related to the latitude, but at this high latitude even its lowest point is not below the horizon. I was fortunate enough to witness the midnight sun in Kiruna in north Sweden a few years ago, but my photos were a lot less dramatic than this. Something to do with the fact I had flown about ten hours that day in…
Last night I spent a few minutes re-reading a couple of passages from Barry Cunliffe's book about Pytheas the Greek. About 2300 years ago Pytheas went seriously far north for a Mediterranean, but the debate still rages about how far he went. Some of it seems to revolve around an expression about there being enough light to 'pick the lice from your shirt' at midnight. Now that's what I call natural.