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A Merry Tough Christmas Navigation Riddle

This time of year poses some logistical challenges for Santa and his team.

Can you help him?

Few people realise that in order to be ready for the big night, Santa puts himself and his reindeer through their paces with some testing navigational challenges.

WARNING: Santa is a something of a zealous navigator and he does not recommend your trying this challenge if you have decided to switch off for your holidays!

However, if you are looking for something to share with / give you a break from** your loved ones for a few minutes over the coming week, this might be for you. 
** Delete as applicable. 

The Challenge

Yesterday it was the winter solstice and Santa watched the sun go directly overhead at midday. 

He then travelled in the direction that the sun sets on the equinoxes until he had travelled half way around the world.

Which hemisphere was Santa in for all of his challenge – North or South?

Which direction did Santa head when he set off in the same direction as the sun sets on the equinoxes – North, East, South or West?

Which direction must Santa set off on if he wants to take the shortest route back to his starting point – North, East, South or West?

Where will he be when he is halfway back to his start point?

Which direction must he head for the second half of his journey –
North, East, South or West?

When he is nearly back to his start point, Santa sees a star on his right. Which direction is that star – North, East, South or West?


CLUE: North, East, South and West all feature at least once in the answers to the questions. 



If the sun passed overhead at midday on the winter solstice, Santa was somewhere on the Tropic of Capricorn, in the southern hemisphere

If he headed towards the direction the sun sets on the equinoxes, he headed West and this kept him on the Tropic of Capricorn.

He kept going until he was on the opposite point on the Tropic of Capricorn (180 degrees longitude from where he started).

The shortest route back to his start point is via the South Pole and he would be at the South Pole when he was half way home.

He must set off due South to begin with, but when he reaches halfway at the South Pole, he will be then need to head North to get back to his start point. 

If he is heading north and sees a star on his right, it must be East of him.

(Technical explanation: the shortest route between any two points on the globe is part of a Great Circle and in the case of opposite points on the same Tropic it will take you via the nearest Pole. See my page explaining Great Circles for more if you are up for that.)

How did you get on? A round of applause if you had a go at any of the questions,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!