Thursday July 24 2014
Science Photo Answer #838

Science photo 838

I took this photo this morning (10:27 AM) while making the hike to the mailbox. What direction was I facing?

To answer this, lets take a look at a couple more photos. The first was taken from the same spot, but earlier in the morning. Notice the IPhone in my hand.

Science photo 838

Now I shift the camera focus to the IPhone, using the compass app, and we can see that I am facing a bit west of southwest.

Science photo 838

OK, so what were the clues? First, there are the shadows of the trees, but that tricked some of you. We tend to think that in the morning, the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. During the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun rises in the southeast, and sets in the southwest. With the Sun rising in the southeast, the shadows would point towards the northwest.

The second clue is the snow. Notice that the cliff on the left is covered with snow, while the cliff on the right has no snow on it. Again, since it is winter, the Sun stays to the south, which means that north facing slopes do not get direct sunshine. That lets the snow stay on them for much longer than south facing slopes, such as the one on the right.

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