Home Science & Technology How realistic is celestial navigation in Moon Knight?

How realistic is celestial navigation in Moon Knight?


Our planet is also changing positions. In six months the Earth will move from one side of the sun to the other. This is a change in distance of almost 300 million kilometers, and this is enough to cause a noticeable visible change in the position of some of the nearby stars. In fact, parallax is an important tool for measuring the distance to these stars. (Here are the others ways to measure stellar distances.)

Yes, yes, the constellations are changing, but not so much.

Find your longitude

Here’s how to find your longitude with a watch and a star chart. Let’s start with the star map. Suppose on this chart there is a star that will always be directly above the point in Greenwich, England, at 4am local time, which we would call the Greenwich Mean Time. (I chose Greenwich not by chance. The main meridian or line of longitude 0 degrees passes straight through Royal Greenwich Observatoryso that’s good for measurements.)

Now let’s imagine you’re in a different place and trying to figure out where you are using the same star. You will need to know at what time this star appears right above your head your location. Hence the clock.

A time check shows that wherever you are, this star appears directly above your head at 1am, not 4am – three hours earlier than Greenwich. That means you are three out of 24 hours west of Ginwich. If you want to convert this to degrees, it will be (3/24) × 360 = 45 degrees. This will put you on the longitude line that runs through Greenland and Brazil. (It may get a little trickier than that, since you probably won’t have a star directly over your head, but you get the idea.)

Next, if you are in the northern hemisphere, you can use the North Star to calculate your latitude and determine your exact location on the planet where these latitude and longitude lines intersect. Hopefully it’s not in the middle of the Atlantic.

What’s wrong Moon Knight?

Now it’s time to talk about Moon Knight. (Several spoilers.) In the 3rd series, the Moon Knight, Honshu’s earthly avatar, reunites with Mark’s wife, Leila. They are trying to find the tomb of the Egyptian god Amit. When Amit is released, she will do some bad things for the human race, so they really want to get there first. They have assembled parts of the burial shroud to form an ancient star map, and want to use this to find the location of a tomb that resembles celestial navigation.

But there is a problem: this map was made 2000 years ago, so the location of the constellations is incorrect. Since then, the stars have moved to new positions. Since the Moon Knight is Honshu’s avatar, he uses his powers to move the stars in the sky back to the pattern shown when creating the map. The problem is solved. Moon Knight and Layla can get to Amit’s grave.

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