Question about Eratosthenes method for calculating the circumference of the earth

  1. My professor was showing us how to calculate the Circumference of the earth using Eratosthenes method, as shown here. I completely understand this method. files/eratosthenescircumf.html

    However he told us he had an easier method and to use it. I'm not sure if it works, however. I have attached the slide from his lecture that explains what he was saying to do. I understand Eratosthene's method because the sun's rays are directly over the southern most stick and the shadow cast by the northern stick then can be used to find the angle that subtends the arc, which is the distance between the two sticks.

    I suppose using his method you have to measure the angle of the shadow cast by both sticks using a protractor, rather than having the option to use geometry like in the original.

    Also, I am not sure about the direction of the shadow cast by the sun based on the way he has the sticks are oriented, given the cardinal directions given in the diagram. Something just seems off to me. I don't understand how it is possible to do this calculatioin without the sun being directly over the southernmost stick.

    The site won't let me post the attachment in a new thread as I already posted it here.
    Thanks for any help or input.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm getting a "Not found" error on this link.
  4. I reposted the link. It works now.
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