The Shadow Knows Where You Are . . .

By Larry Rea

Lord, give me a sign. What time is it? Where am I?

The sign in the photograph says, “Entering Morrow County” but entering Morrow County is not yet in Morrow County. You would actually still be in one of the counties adjacent to Morrow County.

But – aha – the shadow gives you a clue – the shadow knows. With a little patience you can construct a rudimentary sundial and a compass rose* using the shadow cast by the sign.

In the early morning (providing you are standing upright north of the solar equator), shadows fall toward the west. At local noon, shadows point due north and in the late afternoon shadows fall toward the east.

In any group of people, someone may point out that if you are south of the solar equator the shadow directions would be inversed. If you are in doubt, determine which direction the shadow is rotating around the sign.

If clockwise, you are north of the solar equator. However, standing on your head will inverse both and (of course) if the sign is located on the solar equator the shadow will not rotate but would oscillate west toward east casting no shadow at local noon.

Still having trouble? Are you sure you are standing on your head?

*A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, or Rose of the Winds, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart, or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions: North, East, South, and West—and their intermediate points.

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