Change of Latitude


 It’s those changes in latitudes,
Changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Jimmy Buffett


A recent trip took this chronicler and his brother (known herein as Brother Trucker) to Key West, Florida.  The visit had clear, warm weather for observing the morning planets.  The view above shows the close passing of the moon and Venus on the morning of November 7.

In addition to the planet views, Canopus was visible below Sirius and Canis Major in the southwest.  Not only does a change in latitude bring a change in attitude, it changes the position of the friendly stars in the sky.  So before reviewing the terrestrial sites, let’s look at the celestial sights.

Mariners have long known that latitudes can be determined by the positions of stars in the sky.  Quite simply the altitude of Polaris in the northern sky equals your latitude in the northern hemisphere.  Polaris was distinctly lower in the sky than from Chicago.  Sirius was higher that viewed from home allowing more southern skies to be seen.  The orientation of the moon and planets was distinctly different.


On the chart above, the green line represents the ecliptic, the imaginary line that forms the plane of the solar system relative to the sun and moon.  All the visible planets and planets appear near the solar system’s plane.  Notice the different angles the ecliptic makes with the horizon as seen from Chicago and Key West.  The Key West view shows the ecliptic nearly perpendicular to the horizon.  This makes Jupiter appear farther north than it does from the Chicago.  Clearly Jupiter was almost directly above Venus as seen from Key West, where the solar system angle made it appear nearly above the moon.  Note the subtle but visible differences between the two views on the chart above.

Now on to the terrestrial views.



The Key West chickens were seen across the locale.

Brother Trucker and your celestial chronicler at the Southernmost Point.

Kite boarders enjoyed the strong ocean breezes.

A panorama of Bayside (the north shore of Key West.)

View from the hotel.

The butterfly museum.

One of Hemingway’s cats.

Hemingway’s writing studio

The Key West lighthouse.

Changes in latitudes bring those changes in latitudes.  They also bring changes in the celestial views.

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