Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Altitude and Azimuth Question

  1. Jan 29, 2008 #1
    This question was recently on a test for our Astronomy Class. I was extremely confused by the question and the logic because my teacher had told us as a class that altitude was always equal to latitude. So please clarify.

    If it is the Summer Solstice and I am standing at the Tropic of Cancer at High Noon facing south, what is the the altitude and azimuth of the sun?

    I put (23°, 26", 21' Altitude, 0° Azimuth) as my answer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2008 #2
    Did you teacher also mention anything about the North Celestial Pole (NCP) while talking about the altitude being equal to the latitude?

    The altitude of a celestial object is a continually varying quantity, but the latitude of an observer is not so. Therefore, generally, they are not equal. But there is one point in the sky, that is always at an altitude that is equal to the latitude of the observer, and it is the NCP.

    That's not right. If that were true, then for someone at the equator (along the same line of longitude) the Sun would be "setting" in the North, at noon! The (northern) summer solstice and the Tropic of Cancer have a rather special connection.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  4. Jan 29, 2008 #3
    Thank you! I kind of figured I got it wrong, but I was still hoping.
  5. Jan 29, 2008 #4
    During the summer solstice, at high noon, the Sun would be directly overhead for someone standing at the ToCnc. Alt:90deg.
  6. Jan 29, 2008 #5
    Yeah, when the proctor called out one minute remaining, I went to change my answer to that and I just thought, "You know if you change it and its wrong you'll never forgive yourself." So I didn't. Now, I can't forgive myself for not.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook