Why is North up? Bib. Ast.#27

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newtonian

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Why is north considered up in modern astronomy and cartography?<br /><br />Note this Biblical astronomy statement:<br /><br />(Job 26:7) . . .He is stretching out the north over the empty place, Hanging the earth upon nothing. . .<br /><br />Did modern scientists draw this way independently? If so, for what reason. If not, for what reason?
 
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a_lost_packet_

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Well, Southwest is really "up" but I'm not supposed to tell anyone that.<br /><br />In cartography, there are a variety of reasons. In fact, maps have been drawn in all sorts of fashion over the ages. During the Middle Ages in the Western World, maps were centered around Jerusalem as a spiritual center. Maps in many parts of the world were oriented according to sunrise and sunset also. Hence, East and West orientations. I ran across a blurb from a Usenet group that may prove interesting. My apologies, but I do not know the poster's name. Here is a link:<br />Geograph Usenet Archive<br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Try Peter Whitfield, "The Image of the World" (San Francisco:pomegranate Art books, 1994. He has some interesting ideas "why things changed" North apparently becaome the preferred direction during the Renaissance in the fifteenth centuray, because: (1) the world map had to be widened withe the discoveries in the New World, (2) thus projection became of increasing importance, and (3) the first republication of Ptolemy in the west with reconstructions of his maps. In 1459 the world map of Father Mauro (p 33) had S at the top. In 1457 a Genoese World Map showed the influence of Ptolemy, twice the E-W direction than N-S and had N at top (p. 41) I don't know if there was an earlier N orientation in classical antiquity. Remember, NO maps from that time have survived, whatever maps of antiquity you have seen are reconstructions. Yours, Wolf<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Interesting ideas there.<br /><br />Of course, the "North Star" as a stable point in the heavens served as a common marker than everyone had access to. Look "up" and there it is. Glance at your map and start sailing. I would say that the Age of Sail cemented the use of "North" as an orientation direction for "up" on a map.<br /><br />I am not sure of you <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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newtonian

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a_lost_packet_- Well, from what I remember, depictions of our solar system in astronomy books normally have our earth depicted with North as up.<br /><br />With a tilt, of course.<br /><br />Am I correct?<br /><br />Likewise, all of the desktop globes I have seen have north as the top both for the globe of earth and for the solar system plane (eccliptic?).<br /><br />Again, am I correct?<br /><br />Is this just tradition, or is there a scientific basis for this?<br /><br />And, for a way out question - where would an extra-terrestrial have to be to view north on earth as the top?<br /><br />
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<font color="yellow"> Newtonian - Is this just tradition, or is there a scientific basis for this? </font><br /><br />Well, I suppose it is much simpler to agree on a direction for orientation of such a depiction rather than to force elementary school students to try to twist their heads "up-side-down" in order to figure out the drawing on the bulletin board. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />Seriously though, "up" is a relative area. We guage it as opposite of the pull of gravity on Earth. I suppose that "Up" was associated with "North" because North is the area on the uppermost portion of a map. Magellan's ink-pen may have constantly rolled South on his map when he wasn't looking or something. So, maybe he called North "up?" <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> So, while there could be a logical reason (ie: Orienting on a magnetic compass for ship travel or using Polaris as a guide, depending on the epoch) it is probably just a matter of convention/tradition. When differing readers look at a map, it is handy to have a communally shared referrence point. North seemed to have won out during the Renaissance.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">Newtonian - And, for a way out question - where would an extra-terrestrial have to be to view north on earth as the top? </font><br /><br />It depends on the referrence point. He could be looking at a map upside down. He could also just be approaching the Earth with his "up" orientation opposite of ours.<br /><br />Then again... . .maybe Southwest is really "up?" heh heh<br /><br />I see the line.. I see the sinker.. Where's the "hook?" <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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spaceman186000mps

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http://www.geocities.com/magnetic_declination/<br /><br /><br />If unlike poles attract, then why doesn't the north tip of a compass point magnetic south?<br /> Should we be calling the north magnetic pole, the southern magnetic pole of the Earth, or should we be referring to the south magnetized needle of the compass as pointing magnetic north? Neither. A compass needle is a magnet and the north pole of any magnet is defined as the side which points magnetic north when the magnet is freely suspended; its correct title is "north seeking pole," but it has unfortunately been shortened to "north pole." Maps label the magnetic pole in the northern hemisphere as the "North Magnetic Pole". <br /> The cardinal points were defined long before the discovery that freely suspended magnets align to magnetic north. When some curious person placed lodestone (magnetite) on wood floating on water, or floated it directly on mercury, it was observed to align in a consistent direction, roughly pointing north. The side of the lodestone that pointed magnetic north was called, naturally, the "north pole". But that was before it was realized that like poles of magnets repel. So we must now make the distinction that the real north pole is the Earth's north magnetic pole, and the poles of all magnets that (roughly) point to it are north seeking poles. <br /><br />My thoughts are... <br /> North is a descriptive word used by the ancients when they incorrectly assumed that a floating magets north pole magically aligned itself with some unknown force that also had a north pole and that the two north poles were pointing to each other when in fact true science now says that like poles repel and opposit poles attract.<br />Confusing/ it is indeed...<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong><font size="2" color="#3366ff">70 percent of novel proceeds </font></strong><strong><font size="2" color="#3366ff">www.trafford.com/06-1593</font></strong><strong><font size="2" color="#3366ff"> are donated to </font></strong><strong><font size="2" color="#3366ff">www.caringbridge.org</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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Saiph

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actually, the north pole of the compass magnet does point south. They just colored and labled the south pole N, since it points north.<br /><br /><br />A magnets poles are not defined by which end points north (though that's a good way, but you'd have to call that end the south end). To be really technical the poles are labeled by how the magnetic field affects moving charged particles around it. Looking straight at the pole (the magnets end is pointed at your face) the charged particles should be induced into a counterclockwise motion, if it's the north pole.<br /><br /><br /><br />Using the earth's magnetic field (or another, already labeled magnet), and letting the compass re-orient itself is a much faster (and cheaper) way of finding the poles. You just have to remember to label them "backwards". <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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pizzaguy

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I read an excerpt from a book on this very topic once.<br /><br />The author tried to make the case (and I think he did so very well) that North became UP because we don't want to spend our time thinking we were on the 'bottom" of the planet. <br /><br />What do I mean?<br /><br />Well, weren't we taught that civilization arose primarily around five great rivers of the world: Nile, Hwang, Indus and the Tigris/Euphrates (these two become one single river just miles from the Persian Gulf) ?<br /><br />His point was that the vast majority of scientific thinking was taking place NORTH of the equator. This in'st to "slam" those in the south, but look at a globe: there is more occupiable land in the northern hemisphere - and travel between cities is easier! (Say you are living in the years from 0 AD to about 1500 AD: How do you travel from say, Sydney to Buenos Aires? Now, travel from say, Cairo to Athens is just a long ride, by boat or foot.) <br /><br />Sceintific advances aren't usually made without many minds working together.<br /><br />It only makes sense that North is UP. But it isn't any more 'right' than if it was the other way.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1"><em>Note to Dr. Henry:  The testosterone shots are working!</em></font> </div>
 
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mooware

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I think it's just tradition. I don't believe there really is an up or down in space. Where "up" is for you is relative to your position.<br /><br />
 
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petepan

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pizzaguy<br /><br />I think your spot on with your appraisal. Thats the sort of story i had heard (about North and South). Because, mainly all the main countries are North of the border, so to speak, so you would naturally assume that you are 'up' and would have to go 'down South'.
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>It only makes sense that North is UP. But it isn't any more 'right' than if it was the other way.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Absolutely. It's purely a matter of convention.<br /><br />Interestingly, the Aztecs regarded west as the superior direction. This was because of the four Tezcatlipocas (children of the Sun-god), the one that they worshipped most, their patron saint, was associated with the west. His name was Huitzilopotchli. He was also associated with the color blue. (Quetzalcoatl, the long-banished Tezcatlipoca represented as a feathered serpent who travelled in a winged boat, was associated with the east and the color white. This may have caused fatal confusion when the light-skinned conquistadores came out of the east in sailing ships.)<br /><br />Also, the ancient Egyptians considered south to up. I'm not sure where this was echoed on any maps, but they did refer to the southern kingdom as "upper egypt" and the northern kingdom as "lower egypt". Unlike our modern arbitrary choice of "north", the ancient Egyptians actually had a good reason for this -- their entire worldview was centered around the Nile (and with good reason), which flows to the north. Thus, it can easily be seen that its southernmost regions are higher altitude. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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newtonian

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a_lost_packet - An extraterrestrial looking at earth would not be looking at a map. Perhaps he would be using some sort of telescope, or whatever.<br /><br />For example, would north be up from Andromeda as a reference point? It would also depend on the plane of our solar system - viewed edge on with North as up?<br /><br />Do you understand my question?<br /><br />I was asking what directions would an extraterrestrial be looking from to see our North as up on planet earth. <br /><br />I.e. the North pole (rotational, not magnetic). Our maps use the rotational axis as the pole, don't they?<br /><br />Please consider the other way around - if we can get an image, literally or from computer modeling, of an extra-solar planet - wouldn't there be a specific up and down, i.e. top and bottom, in that photo?<br /><br />Calli - Conventional or for a specific reason, I would still like to know the origin. Is there any earlier reference than Job 26:7 (c. 1513 BCE) which hints north is up?<br /><br />BTW - I remember some good posts on the old SDC that you made on this subject.<br /> <br />BTW- viewed from space west could only be up half a day (<12 hours) because of the way earth rotates. On the other hand, North could always be up, depending on the reference point Earth is viewed from.
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<font color="yellow">Newtonian - Do you understand my question? </font><br /><br />Yes. However, the answer is not as easy as it seems. That's why I put in the "map" referrence. I was implying that the "alien" would have to have some commonly shared variable in order to orient "North" as "up."<br /><br />Now, we can look at a planet and determine it's axis of rotation. We can also determine something about it's magnetic field. However, your question involved an alien and the conventions of "North" and "Up." This is no way that "North" or "Up" is communicated just by looking at the data. These are relative terms and require some form of data to link them with the observation. In order for an alien to define "North" as we define it, the alien must have access to our definition of the term.<br /><br />So, in order to answer the question:<br /><font color="yellow">Newtonian - And, for a way out question - where would an extra-terrestrial have to be to view north on earth as the top? </font><br /><br />We have to establish what the ET would be able to discern from observing the Earth:<br /><br />1) Axis of Rotation - An observer could easily see Earth's axis of rotation if it was observed over a period of time. This can be quantified.<br /><br />2) Magentic Field - An observer, depending on technology and distance, may be able to determine the orientation of Earth's magentic field. However, this is not particularly helpful as it changes orientation from time to time and is, theoretically, induced by a dynamo effect. The field is not generated by iron/metal but by electrical fields moving with material below the Earth's crust. In other words, it is not much of a "constant." However, this too can be quantified.<br /><br />3) Orientation of the axis on the ecliptic in relationship to Earth's orbit around the Sun - Earth is tilted at about 24 degrees in relationship to it's axis of rotation and it's plane of orbit around it's star. This can also be quanti <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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pizzaguy

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<font color="yellow"><br />Also, the ancient Egyptians considered south to up. I'm not sure where this was echoed on any maps, but they did refer to the southern kingdom as "upper egypt" and the northern kingdom as "lower egypt". Unlike our modern arbitrary choice of "north", the ancient Egyptians actually had a good reason for this -- their entire worldview was centered around the Nile (and with good reason), which flows to the north. Thus, it can easily be seen that its southernmost regions are higher altitude.</font><br /><br />The Nile would be important, sure. <br /><br />I have ONE other argument (it's kinda weak, I admit): The SUN.<br /><br />Think about it, the Sun, over the course of the year, moves from directly overhead at noon in summer to somewhat-south-of-directly overhead in winter. So, overall, it would seem to "revolve around a point in the southern sky". With that in mind, would it make sense to think of the general direction of south as the dominant one? I mean, to some exent, man has historically known that our lives (and all life) revolves around the sun.<br /><br />I know, I said it was weak - I hope I'm remembered for my FIRST post in this thread, more than this one. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1"><em>Note to Dr. Henry:  The testosterone shots are working!</em></font> </div>
 
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tom_hobbes

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As discussed it's an arbitrary designation. If Western civilisation had flourished in Cape Town say, you can bet the situation would be reversed. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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That's an excellent point, pizzaguy. Don't be too modest! <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />Yeah, I can definintely see a case for having south as the dominant cardinal point. After all, the Sun does lean that way to a northern-hemisphere observer. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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newtonian

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a_lost_packet_ - Thank you.<br /><br />Now, why wouldn't an alien photo show up and down - assuming up is the top of the photo and down is the bottom?<br /><br />I'm not concerned with language variation, since it doesn't matter what word means up in any specific language - my question would still be the same.<br /><br />This is from "The World of Science," 1991, Volume7 "The Solar System," page 33- concerning magnetic fields:<br /><br />"Jupiter and Saturn have powerful fields tilted at the angles shown [Jupiter- 11 degrees;Saturn - 1 degree]; both are directed in the opposite sense to that of the earth, each having its south magnetic pole in the northern hemishpere."<br />OK, how did they determine 'north' at Jupiter and Saturn?
 
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newtonian

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spaceman186,000mps - thank you. Interesting.<br /><br />However, I wasn't referring to the north magnetically.<br /><br />In the Biblical context (of Job 26:7 which indicates north is up in relation to earth being hung on nothing in empty space) the direction north would be the same as the direction of a north wind - i.e. from the north, not by a magnetic compass.<br /><br />When was the first human magnetic navigation? I know animals had it first.<br />Why is the north magnetic pole called north? Is it because it is the same direction as the north wind?<br /><br />Note that would not be the case on Jupiter or Saturn. <br /><br />And that brings up my expanded question - what is north in our solar system - e.g. at Jupiter and Saturn? How does it relate the the plane of revolution of the planets? On top from an outside reference point?<br />
 
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newtonian

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pizzaguy- excellent first post - I like the second one also.<br /><br />On the first post:<br /><br />Sounds good. Job 26:10, 3 verses later, indicates that the terminator on earth is a circle and therefore earth must be a sphere. Isaiah 40:22 also indicates earth is round.<br /><br />So, yes, those who realized we are in the northern hemisphere would naturally consider north to be up.<br /><br />However, Job is presented as being inspired by God. Why would God consider North to be up - or would that just be for our understanding from our reference point?
 
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newtonian

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crazyeddie - I thought I had posted the statement in Job 26:7. thank you for requestng the following - it is important:<br /><br />(Job 26:7) . . . He is stretching out the north over the empty place, Hanging the earth upon nothing. . .<br /><br />(Job 26:10) . . . He has described a circle upon the face of the waters, To where light ends in darkness. . .<br /><br />[Note, early earth was covered with water -:<br /><br />(Genesis 1:1-2) 1 In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of [the] watery deep; and God's active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.]<br /><br />(Isaiah 40:22) 22 There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell,. . .<br /><br />The Hebrew word translated circle is hhug, which means circle in two dimensions and sphere in three dimensions - note also that earth is seen as a circle from any and all directions.<br /><br />In addition, there is this accurate description of planet earth's water and wind cycles:<br /><br />(Ecclesiastes 1:6-7) . . .The wind is going to the south, and it is circling around to the north. Round and round it is continually circling, and right back to its circlings the wind is returning. 7 All the winter torrents are going forth to the sea, yet the sea itself is not full. To the place where the winter torrents are going forth, there they are returning so as to go forth. . .<br /><br />Note that all of planet earth's wind cycles go North and South. East and west are omitted because they are not common to all the planet's cycles- I think.<br /><br />E.g. one planetary wind cylce goes north, down, south, up.<br /><br />There are many other verses referring to winds from various directions including north. <br /><br />(Job 37:9) . . .And out of the north wi
 
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pizzaguy

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<font color="yellow">Why would God consider North to be up - or would that just be for our understanding from our reference point?</font><br /><br />Exactly, when you talk to your kid, you speak on a level they can understand. When an "educator" speaks to a class, they do it on a level the student can understand.<br /><br />What good would it do to speak to us on HIS level, and not ours??????? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1"><em>Note to Dr. Henry:  The testosterone shots are working!</em></font> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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..<br /><br />Ah. I see. You are using the naming conventions of "North" and "Up" to try to give credence to the opinion that the passages in the Bible show knowledge that could not have been known by human beings at the time.<br /><br />..<br /><br />Quite alot of prose to have to quote and suppositions to make in order to construct your point don't you think? Do referrences to "North" associated with "up" constitute knowledge that was not availbable to human beings at the time? Perhaps a better question would be to look at the translations of these words and compare the original to such knowledge. Then again, given the naming conventions of "North" and "Up" along with the peculiar reasonings given for same as map referrences, it's just not something that is provable. There are too many reasons "North" could have been associated with "up" within these passages to give credence to some higher knowledge. This may not be the proof that you seek.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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newtonian

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a_lost_packet_ - Actually, No.<br /><br />It was a question.<br /><br />I do not yet know the answers.<br /><br />The fact that these Bible writers accurately wrote about the shape of the earth and the fact that the earth is hung upon nothing is indeed proof. <br /><br />And the fact that all of earth's wind cycles and water cycle are accurately and simply described is also notable. <br /><br />However, the question about north being up is up in the air, so to speak, for me.<br /><br />Crazyeddie asked for some Bible passages. I obliged him .<br />On this thread I am more concerned with why north is up in astronomy and cartography (and also in the Bible).<br /><br />Did you notice my quote concerning the planets Jupiter and Saturn? <br /><br />I ask again- What determines what is the northern hemisphere on these planets?<br /><br />And as a tangent, why are the magnetic poles opposite in direction from that of earth in relation to north on Jupiter and Saturn?
 
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newtonian

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pizzaguy - Yes, of course.<br /><br />However, in the Bible God is spoken of a residing in a specific heaven, not our heaven- not even the heaven of the heavens:<br /><br />(1 Kings 8:27) . . ."But will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built! <br /><br />Now, that may be in another realm or other dimensions not the same as our length and width directly. Hence my question may not apply.<br /><br />Then again, it may apply - I surely do not know.<br /><br />After all, the ascension of Jesus to God's location took time, as it took 10 days for the holy spirit to arrive back here on earth. Time of travel could involve direction.<br /><br />I doubt north was picked out of a hat in Job 26:7. There is likely a reason.
 
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newtonian

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a_lost_packet_ - Is the reason Saturn and Jupiter are spoken of as having a northern hemisphere because north is indeed the same direction in relation to the plane of the ecliptic as on earth?<br /><br />By plane of the eccliptic, I mean the orbital paths of the planets, which all orbit in the same direction in the same plane.<br /><br />In other words, north is not just a specific direction on earth, but also in the entire solar system.<br /><br />Therefore it must also be a specific direction in our universe.<br /><br />Trouble is, I can't remember how the plane of our solar system relates in direction to the plane of the Milky Way, or the direction of Andromeda galaxy from us.<br /><br />One of my questions is: where does north point in our universe using north from the plane of the solar system eccliptic?<br /><br />For example, which direction was the Hubble space telescope pointed in comparison with the average north on our planet when the famous Hubble deep field photo was taken?<br />Btw - my question is based on only one verse:<br /><br />(Job 26:7) 7 He is stretching out the north over the empty place, Hanging the earth upon nothing;<br /><br />The other verses simply demonstrate that the Bible writers used our familiar directions, north, south, east, west but specified north only in said verse, and north + south only when describing earths wind cycles (Ecclesiastes 1:6). We now know the scientific reason for the latter- but not for the former. <br /><br />BTW- I realize that while north would point to a specific direction in our universe, viewing north as up would encompass an entire circle of directions - would that circle be in the same plane as the solar system plane of the eccliptic?<br /><br />I think the answer is: Yes.
 
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pizzaguy

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<font color="yellow"><br />a_lost_packet_ - Is the reason Saturn and Jupiter are spoken of as having a northern hemisphere because north is indeed the same direction in relation to the plane of the ecliptic as on earth?<br /><br />By plane of the eccliptic, I mean the orbital paths of the planets, which all orbit in the same direction in the same plane.<br /><br />In other words, north is not just a specific direction on earth, but also in the entire solar system. </font><br /><br />I'd go along with that. But as for the rest of your post, I just don't share your curiosity. (In other words, I just don't really care.) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1"><em>Note to Dr. Henry:  The testosterone shots are working!</em></font> </div>
 
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