As Veteran's Day nears, out thoughts of our US military and the legions of those who have served in generations past come to mind. We are reminded of their sacrifice, their loyalty and love for their country. So often our young sons and daughters don helmets and are deployed to far off corners of the planet Earth, embedded in cultures, climates, topography and conditions so foreign to their home.
One thing comforting is their view upwards.
No matter where on this globe they may be, they can look up and see the very same Sun, Moon and stars their loved ones at home see, and at certain times they and their families can connect at the very same moment, looking at the same points in the sky.
The longer nights we are experiencing as we in the Northern Hemisphere move towards winter, offer more of a window to establish that cosmic connection.
Kabul, Afghanistan, for instance, is 9 hours 30 minutes ahead of Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA. For a soldier in Kabul and his or her family in northeastern Pennsylvania to both see sky at night, the soldier would need to perhaps be on guard duty in the wee hours before dawn, and family back home would need to look up in the early evening after dusk.
Around the time of Full Moon, which arrives November 17, the Moon would be low in the west at 5 a.m. in greater Kabul at the same moment it is low in the east at 7:30 p.m. in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Moon, however, will be significantly shifted in respect to background stars, due to parallax. The Moon is a great deal closer than the stars, so the differing angles these two observers would look to see it would be enough to notice- if both of you were to snap a photo or make a careful sketch. Parallax measurements, by the way, can be used to tell the distance of the Moon or other object.
Likewise you can see the Sun at the same time as your loved one on a far off battlefield. The same golden sunshine can warm your faces at the same moment. Naturally the weather has to cooperate in both locales!
Of course this applies to others besides military on deployment.
If you have family on a far away vacation or work assignment, you could make plans to "look up" at the same time and be comforted with your cosmic connection.
Seeing the same stars at far distant points can be problematic if you are on different sides of the equator- even if you are near the same longitude. From the USA and Argentina, for example, many of the same constellations are in view at the same time, but for one of you they are "upside down." You two can battle it out which one sees them the right way up.
Page 2 of 2 - Someone stationed on the very North Pole and another at the very South Pole, would need to look up around the time of Autumnal or Spring Equinox for both to see any stars. At any other time of year, in one place the Sun is up, and the other, the Sun is down- around the clock. If you both could see stars, you'd each be seeing totally different stars since the northern half and southern half of the sky is split at the equator and you are on the very top (or bottom) of the globe.
First Quarter Moon is on November 10.
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Keep looking up!