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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Physics, and a Stroke of Luck

This morning I flew from Paris to Newark. Thanks to physics, I should probably change the spelling to "moooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnniiiiiinnnnnnnngggggggggg".

At that latitude, about 47 degrees north, the airplane's angular velocity (number of degrees longitude crossed per unit of time) is very close to the earth's angular velocity, but in the opposite direction.

One consequence is the apparent fixing of the sun in the sky. In this case, we had an early sunrise that lasted for seven hours.

Another consequence, if you time it just right, is you get to see the International Space Station.



erp said...

So you don't drive a chariot of the gods, you are the chariot pulling the sun behind you. That must be a real mind bender.

Clovis e Adri said...

That's one more in my book on why I hate you, Skipper.

I really do.

Hey Skipper said...

erp: it *is* kind of weird to have the sun hang just below the horizon for hours on end.

Clovis: probably wouldn't help to tell you how much angst I am feeling, knowing that if I had been paying a little more attention, I'd have seen it three times.

That could have been a world record.

I hang my head in shame.

erp said...

Skip, you are shameless. :-)

Anonymous said...


Have you ever see a glory for your plane? If the conditions are just right, you can see the shadow of the plane on a lower cloud deck along with a circular rainbow around it. I've seen one a couple of times, it's cool.

Hey Skipper said...


I can't count the number of times. It almost always happens when the airplane is close enough to the cloud. Since that happens a lot more often at the front of the plane, it is much more common to see it from the cockpit than in back.