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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Old 1 Jul 2001
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Travelling by the stars in the Sahara

Can anyone tell me please about the night sky in S. Algeria and Morocco sahara?
I need to know if the North star is visible and used to navigate by night. OK, if not, then what stars would you use to navigate with?
Also is Orion visible at any time of the year? If not what prominant constellation(s) might be the most visible?

One more. If you did use the north star to guide you all night long would you travel in a straight line or in a slight arc?
Strange questions but I need to know for a story I'm writing.

Thank you to anyone who can help.
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Old 2 Jul 2001
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When in Mauritania I had the rare priviledge of seeing both the North Star and the Southern Cross at the same time. (Approx 4am in February.)
My French astro chum was thrilled, but the navigational signifance was wasted, we were using GPS anyway!
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Old 3 Jul 2001
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What an interesting thought! I'm intrigued! Please, go on!

As far as I know both the North Star and Orion are both visible from S Algeria - what time of year is your story built around? In spring they are both visible, and I know they are visible in winter in Northern Africa too

Sounds really interesting - keep us in the know and informed!

Cheers Renate
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Old 4 Jul 2001
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Oh good because the story takes place in the spring. Perfect.
Orion being the "warrior" is inspiration to the main character and becomes a motif for the story. Glad it's visible because I think it's one of the most beautiful and interesting constellations containing Betelgeuse and Rigel and double stars and nebulas etc.
The story is not for a magazine if thats what you're wondering. Its a novel and I'm a neophite fiction writer so who knows? However it's become a passion of mine and I intend to take this all the way. Part of my research is now in details like this. Also I'll be travelling to Morocco and (hopefully)S. Algeria in October - December to do more research too.
If this ever gets published, and I think it will, I'll definitely be flogging it on this and other travel intense www sites eventually, but that could be many months away.
I'm flattered by your interest. Are you a writer Renate?
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Old 6 Jul 2001
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To view the night sky at specific times and locations you can use Astronomica, very nice astronomical aplication that simulates the constallation positions in relation to time/space... =)

A 30-day trial version of this application is available at http://www.astronomica.com/

Johan G*

[This message has been edited by fue_ll (edited 06 July 2001).]
Johan G*
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Old 12 Jul 2001
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Thanks Johan
Alas Astronomica is only downloadable (is that a word? Well it is now.) for PC users and I am on MAC OS.
I could do a Search for other sites that will simulate the stars on given days/nights/time of year etc. but sometimes its more fun to ask first. Someone out there almost always has a cool link to recommend.
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Old 17 Jul 2001
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One more for you Kitmax and other astro chums.
I have a fantastic CD that was given to me called Starry Night. It's great because you can visit anywhere at any time or date and see what the sky looks like at that time. You can also view the universe from space, fly around to the planets and their moons, see asteroids, comets, eclipses, and more. It's easy to use and it's answered all my questions.
Highly recommended.
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Old 18 Jul 2001
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Hi Robbin,
in my experience Orion is visible in the Central Sahara winter from sundown till about 3-4am - the North Star (Polaris) never moves as far as I know - the whole sky pivots around it

This is NOT a handbook
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