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Geography Question

The article the post below references discusses a quick survey that showed how bad young Americans were at Geography - so Dear Reader, knowing how smart you are, here is a quick question.
Sailing through the Panama Canal on Christmas Day, the midday sun is streaming in through your port porthole - which ocean are you sailing towards?


Ahh well might as well have the first go and look stupid...Atlantic?

Not sure though as midday sun should be high in the sky and so not really coming from the east or west while I believe central america lies on a west-east axis which would affect the answer as well.

The canal is in the northern hemisphere (just), and we're talking about midday sun, so that will be coming from the south. If the south is to my left, then surely I'm heading west, which would imply the Pacific?

Nice problem!

Ah but, the canal runs NW/SE (here's a map



so if the sun is on the port side you'd be heading north westerly towards the Atlantic.

Actully the pananma canal runs north and south so you are heading to the Atlantic

Pub Quiz question a couple of weeks ago. Atlantic.

..my hat has a canal running through it????

Wait just a damn minute! First, I have no idea which is the port side of a boat. Second, if it is midday, you cannot determine which direction you are going. Only after or before midday can the sun be used to determine direction.

But, even with all of that said, I'd guess the Atlantic, which would probably be wrong, because I freely admit that I am geographically challenged.

I'd also guess that the Panama canal is closed on Christmas Day, which is why this is a double-ironic-degree-of-difficulty-2.5- stupid pub riddle.

As Mark points out above the canal runs NW/SE, but its only (according to my atlas at least) about 9 N, so at mid-day its going to be pretty hard to tell whether the sun is due south or directly overhead. Logically it'll be the Atlantic, won't it? Or is the boat listing heavily to port and heading for the Pacific?

"Carruthers? Call down to Miraflores and see what my Yacht is doing...and bring me another damn bloody mary."

On Christmas Day, the sun will be over the southern hemisphere. Port is left so if the sun (in the southern sky) is coming in the port window, we are traveling (generally) westwards. Since the canal (mostly) runs NW / SE, we are traveling NorthWest.

Therefore: we are heading toward the Atlantic.

p.s. Connie, "left" and "port" have the same number of letters.

Mrs. DuToit,
The Sun is only at its point closest to the zenith (at midday) during the height of summer.

Even then, at any point N/S of the equator that will not correspond with the celestial zenith.

The Sun can still be used to determine N/S directions even at noon (and from that E/W).

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