Entries tagged "south"

Deducing Direction from Dog Defecation

2014-01-03

This is not an April Fool's post. Instead this is about the most extraordinary piece of research that I have come across in many years of being on the lookout for such things. I am hugely grateful to Martyn Walker for drawing my attention to it. In a past post, I mentioned the story about researchers discovering that cows align themselves north-south more commonly than any other direction. I never suspected that research in this field could grow more surreal. Researchers have found that dogs defecate more commonly along the north-south axis than any…

Chichester

2012-11-29

I took this photo in Chichester the other day, at midday. Chichester has four main streets, North, East, South and West. (A fairly appropriate home city for me.) You can probably eliminate a couple of those quite quickly, but which of the remaining ones is it? It's not a great photo, taken on my iPhone whilst walking, but there are a couple of good clues. I'll update with an answer in a few days. Update, spoiler alert: We are looking due south on North Street. The clues are: the midday sun plus…

Prickly Lettuce, A Compass Plant

2012-11-13

Prickly lettuce is known to some of its navigating friends as the 'compass plant' and to its Roman friends as 'lactuca serriola'. In truth it is only one of many plants with the compass plant nickname (Silphium laciniatum in the US is another one), but it has earned it. In open ground, the leaves of the main stem are aligned north-south, offering the least surface area to the midday sun, but the maximum area to the weaker light of the start and end of the day. (This is a similar logic to the N-S alignment…

Analemmas and the Equation of Time

2012-10-02

If you stood on the same spot and took a photo of the sun every day during a year's worth of good weather, at exactly the same time each day... ...You might expect to see the sun moving up and down in the sky. But sideways? In fact it would trace a figure of 8 in the sky. This shape is called an Analemma. This has nothing to do with 'daylight saving' or any of the other artificial clock changes. It is caused by two factors. The first is well known and understood by…

Back from the Arctic

2012-07-05

Yesterday I arrived back home after sailing north from Scotland via the Faroe Islands into the Arctic, finishing at Reykjavik. I used the trip to study the relationship between the environment, the distance to land and other factors like depth. I'd like to thank my Mate and only crewmember, John Pahl, for volunteering for such an unlikely voyage and for being such an invaluable help throughout the trip. There's lots to report both here and in the articles I will be writing, but in the meantime I've just got time to share what felt like a great…

Tree Lichens and Royalty

2012-05-11

  -------------------------   In these four pictures we are looking at the same beech tree. See if you can work out which way you are looking in each picture. If you hover your mouse over each picture it should give you the answer. If it has been a bit quiet on the blog recently, it's because it has been a very busy time for the last…

Which Way Are We Looking?

2012-02-07

The last astro quiz proved so popular that I thought we'd do another. This fantastic photo was taken by the expedition photographer, James Walker. Thanks, James, for permission to use it here. Do check out James' website, there are some stunning images, but only after you've had a go at answering the questions below. Which way are we looking in this picture? Bonus: roughly what latitude was the photo taken at? Good luck! I'll post the answer here in a few days. Photography tip from a pro: The tomb in the…

Snow and Ice Patterns

2012-01-30

I'm just back from some micronavigation in the Black Mountains in Wales. I should get a chance to blog in more detail in time, but for now I just wanted to share a couple of nice clues I found in the light snow and ice I walked amongst. The first photo shows the first snow I encountered on a climb out of the Vale of Ewyas. We are looking east in this picture, the only snow to have survived the thawing warmth of the day are the thin strips hiding in the shade on the south…

Geoglyphs

2012-01-22

Last night I caught a few minutes of a programme on BBC4, called 'Unnatural Histories.'As so often seems to be the case, a short stroll from the mainstream channels uncovered rough diamonds.In the programme, an aerial shot showed us clearly visible patterns in the earth, patterns that were partly concealed at ground level by dense undergrowth. The narrator explained that we were looking at 'geoglyphs' in the Amazon rainforest. Geoglyphs are shapes that have been deliberately formed in the land by the hand of man.Like many pilots, I have come to love the way it is possible in the air…

Greek Island Embarrassment

2011-09-20

OK, it's confession time. Again. I'm just back from a week's holiday with my wife on the Greek island of Kefalonia. It was our first holiday without the kids for about seven years, which felt bizarre from start to finish. This is the only, admittedly weak, excuse for the navigational lapse that ensued. In Fiskardo, at the northern end of Kefalonia, we hired a small day-boat and spent many mornings motoring up and down the east coast of Kefalonia. We pursued the not very stressful business of hunting quiet bays and seeking secluded beaches for a swim.…

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