Geostationary satellites and the Sun rising in the West

I had a flight yesterday evening that took off just at sunset. Thus, I had the interesting experience of watching the Sun rise in the West.

As we gained altitude, the Sun came back up above the horizon and appeared to rise but into the wrong side of the sky. Very cool.

Here is another very cool thing.

Some of those points of light up there don’t appear to move as the Earth spins. Why not? They are Geostationary satellites.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    It’s extremely cool. I once had the pleasure, flying west, to watch the sunset dangle on the horizon for a good hour, in glorious array, as time “slowed down” for us. [Flying to Jericho!]

  2. ContraMundum says:

    Very cool indeed.

    What were the latitude and time of year of this flight? At the equator, you’d have to be doing a little more than 1000 mph to beat the rotation of the Earth. At the latitude of London, you’d need to be going at 645 mph to beat the sun on an equinox, but near a solstice, when the sun takes a much more “slanchendiclar” approach to the horizon, it would be much easier.

    [As we gained ALTITUDE. We weren’t flying faster than the Earth’s rotation, though I would have taken that too.]

  3. pm125 says:

    ‘Some of those points of light up there don’t appear to move as the Earth spins. …’

    Dipped if I could pick one out in the 30 sec. video. I wonder if they will be some of that “fire” raining from the sky.

  4. Marcin says:

    I gather you get the same daily fix of APOD, Father. It never fails to amaze me.

  5. Robert of Rome says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t follow any of this? I should have taken an astronomy course at university instead of …. well, instead of something else. By the way, if I *am* the only one, don’t tell me. Thanks.

  6. irishgirl says:

    Very cool video.
    Safe travels, Father Z, wherever you are bound to!

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