Edition 15 of the Astronomy On-line Newspaper

Final Event - Results

Finding your latitude

The task was simple, we thought. Find your geographical latitude by means of one of a series of methods - that was the contents of the Final Event. Exact 50 groups took part, and it is evident from the reports, they filed, that while the task was simple, executing it was less trivial, especially for those who went to great lengths to determine the latitude by astronomical means.

A report which the author of these lines enjoyed very much came from Avventurosi in Bologna, Italy. It said: We are Avventurosi in Bologna, Italy. We used the 2nd method and we have done the measurements this Tuesday at the Elementary School Grosso in Bologna with a 3rd class. The gnomon was a child 132.5 cm tall. The shadow was 272 cm. We calculated arctg (132.5/272) and we transformed the results into 25.7722 deg or in sexagesimal 25o 58' 20". We calculated our geographical latitude and the result is 44o 33' 40". We had some problems: Sometimes the gnomon is moving! Thank you and a good final event!.

Unfortunately, the weather did not behave very well, but thanks to the determination and stamina of many participants, they nevertheless managed to get good results. This is particularly evident from the last report, which we received from Larissa, Greece. In a final summary statement, it said We're late because now the sky is clear. Well done, Larissa and all the other groups!

Not everyone was lucky, and many groups had to resort to method 4 (looking at a map). Not surprisingly, they got very precise results. However it was clear that while the results from method 4 look very good, it is much more fun to go out and do real astronomical measurements yourself. So, to those who had to accept the hard facts of the European November weather: How about giving it another try at a later date? Remember, Astronomy On-Line may close tonight, but the sky will stay with us...!

The table below summarizes the results, arranged by measured geographical latitude. We start at the top, in Northern Norway, and pass towards South, all the way to Greece and the USA and on to Chile, spanning nearly 110 degrees in latitude. Did you know that Palermo (Italy) and Ekali (Greece) are almost on the same latitude?

The last column indicates the method used to find the latitude: 1) by observing the Polar Star; 2) by observing the Sun; 3) by serching on the WWW; and 4) by measuring on a map. There were 12 measurements by method 1, 17 by method 2, 3 by method 3 and 12 by method 4 (that is where the weather did not collaborate). 6 groups did not indicated which method they used.

A final question: would the northernmost group in Tromsoe (Norway) have been able to determine their latitude by means of the second method, that is by measuring the altitude of the Sun? Think before you answer!

Astronomy On-line: Final Event

Latitude Location Group designation Method
69o 39'42" N Tromsoe, Norway 3FY 4
64o 30' N Overhalla, Norway Overhalla vgs Astro Project 4
59o 10' N Haninge Sweden Random Walk Method not indicated
57o 42' N Gothenburg, Sweden Beda 4
57o 42' N Gothenburg, Sweden Kalle 3
55o 45' 23" N Grindsted, Denmark GG's Astronomy Class 4
55o 20' Soenderborg, Denmark Astronomy-Class 1
54o Felixstowe, UK FIC 1
53o 6' N Macclesfield, UK The Moomins 2
50o 56" N Crimmitschau, Germany Observatory Crimmitschau 1
49o 16'25" N Neumarkt, Germany The Gluckers 4
48o 17' N Graz, Austria 6A of the BG XX 4
47o 6' 43" N Echenon, France Club Astronomie 4
46o 35' 26.4" N Bolzano, Italy CAB 4
+46o Lubljana, Slovenia Group Light 1
45o 45' N Verona, Italy Marti 2
45o 57' N Nova Gorica in Slovenia Gimnazija Nova Gorica 2
45o 35' N Torino, Italy Birago group 2
45o N Verona, Italy Venere 2
45o N Verona, Italy Gli Incisivi 2
45o N Verona, Italy Moonwalker 1
44o 33' 40" N Bologna, Italy Avventurosi 2
44o 30 N Bologna, Italy Classe 20 G 2
44o 23' N Bologna, Italy Group Mefisto 2
43o 37' N Toulouse, France Space girls and the space man 4
42o 51' Sofia, Bulgaria Urania 2
39o 57' 58" Larissa, Greece Ursa Major1
39o 57' 58" Larissa, Greece Ursa Minor 1
39o 30' N Palermo, Italy Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo "Giuseppe S. Vaiana" (Istituto G. Croce) 1
39o 21' N Volos, Greece S.A.S. 1
38o 12' N Palermo, Italy Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo "Giuseppe S. Vaiana" (Istituto Gonzaga) 1
38o 11' N Ekali, Greece Red Giants 2
38o 11' N Ekali, Greece Apollo 2
38o 11' N Ekali, Greece X-files 2
38o 11' N Ekali, Greece Observatory 2
38o 11' N Ekali, Greece Amateurs Astronomers 1 2
38o 11' N Ekali, Greece Amateurs Astronomers 2 2
38o 07' N Palermo, Italy Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo "Giuseppe S. Vaiana" (Istituto Finocchiaro Aprile) 3
38o 03' N Athenes(Attiki), Greece Orion 2
38o 00' 5" N Agia Paraskevi (Attiki), Greece Hipparchus 4
38o 00' 5" N Agia Paraskevi (Attiki), Greece Pythagoras 4
38o 00' 5" N Agia Paraskevi (Attiki), Greece Ptolemy 4
38o 00' 5" N Agia Paraskevi (Attiki), Greece Aristarchus 4
38o N Maroussi, Greece Greek Amateur Astronomers Society Team 1
37o 56' N Maroysi, Greece Aristonicos Method not indicated
37o 56' N Maroysi, Greece Eudoxos Method not indicated
37o 53' N Corinth, Greece Corinth-2 3
37o 47' N Zante Island, Greece Zantepl Method not indicated
37o N Hania, Crete , Greece ManDar Method not indicated
36o 30' N Vicar, Spain Grupo Astronomico de Vicar 1
35o N Wichita Falls, USA MCA Group Method not indicated
36o 48' S Concepcion, Chile RASTRO 4

And now the Surprise!

Each of the groups that participated will receive an original, large colour print from ESO's collection, showing one of the most spectacular astronomical objects in the southern sky. We will send it off to you as soon as possible, but it may take a few days to prepare the envelopes. Think of it as as small expression of our gratitude for your active participation in this very special project.

Claus Madsen
ESO Education and Public Relations Dept.


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Last update: Nov 22, 1996