Moon and Latitude

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 the world, but the orientation changes depending on your latitude. In other words, a full moon will be full all over the world, but its features may appear upside down from the opposite hemisphere. When high in the sky, crescent moons will appear closer to ‘vertical’ at higher latitudes and ‘horizontal’ nearer the equator.

The way to remember roughly what direction a full moon will rise is to remember that a full moon is opposite the sun. We are approaching midsummer and so the sun will set closer to northwest in places like the UK at this time of year – the moon therefore rises closer to southeast. In winter the full moon rises closer to northeast. This is all due to the angle of the Earth’s poles relative to its orbit around the sun, that all important 23 1/2 degree ’tilt’.

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My thanks to Nick Tile, who attended the course yesterday and has just forwarded this fantastic link to a website that shows you how to make your own ‘solargraph’ using a homemade pinhole camera.

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