Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Two Hemispheres

Southern Cross Stars Star Formation Nights
Southern Cross
  By the time I graduated from high school I'd lived in two different hemispheres, crossed the international dateline and the equator.  Each hemisphere has some distinct characteristics that are both similar and unique.

If you check things, both hemispheres have a star formation which is easily identified.  In the northern hemisphere it is either the Big Dipper or Orion's Belt depending while in the aouthern hemisphere, it's the Southern Cross. 

The Southern Cross got its name from the four bright stars that form an almost perfect cross. There is a 5th star but it is dim.  The vertical bar of the cross points almost directly south towards the pole. 

According to one historian from the late 1800's, the Southern Cross was seen in by people in Jerusalem at the time of the birth of Christ.  Over time, things have changed so it is no longer visible that far north.

The Southern Cross can be seen in Hawaii at certain times of the year.  I'd regularly see it when I lived in Australia.  Sailors who traveled south of the equator used the Southern Cross much the same way they used the North Star. 

Another commonality is the auroral display around both poles.  In the northern hemisphere, you can see the aurora borealis is you live far enough north.  Living in Alaska, we get some great displays during the winter from October to February or March.  In the southern hemisphere, the aurora is referred to as the aurora australis. There is a belief the northern and southern auroras are thought to be mirror images of each other but that is not true.  

The last fun thing is the direction that water circles as it is drains out of the bathtub or toilets.  There is a general belief that water drains in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere while it is counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.  This is not quite true because the water is not being controlled by the Coriolis effect.  It is more controlled by how the water jets are set in the toilet.

It is true if you have bowls of water where the bowls are absolutely perfect, the water absolutely still, you can observe the Coriolis effect but in general, it will not have any noticeable effect because the way the plumbing is set up.  Its one of those myths that seems to persist.  Honestly, when I lived in Australia, I never noticed which way the water drained out of the toilet.

There is a story of someone down in Kenya who would "prove" water swirled different ways in the northern and southern hemisphere.  They'd prove it for a fee by showing how it went in the northern hemisphere and then walk across the equator to show it swirled the other way. They'd pour the water in with a slight swirl so when it left the sink, it "remembered" the direction of the swirl.

I hope you enjoyed reading these.  I'm hoping to go back to Australia, visit Tasmania and maybe get the chance to see the aurora down there.  Its on my bucket list.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

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