A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2020 Aug 23, 15:24 -0700
David C, you wrote:
"Doing the calculation manually gave me the satisfaction of understanding the principles."
Absolutely! Nothing wrong with challenging fun. But how would you check your work? The simulation in Stellarium provides you with a rather stringent test of those manual calculations. I encourage you to check: do your calculations match? If not, then things are even more interesting!
Also a simulation like Stellarium lets you test lots of scenarios rapidly. In under a minute you can see the variations in the Sun's azimuth and altitude across several hours of that afternoon. And similarly you can quickly compare 1930 against 1950 and 2020, which can help you decide whether you should worry about the year at all. You live near there, right? Have you considered taking a few modern photos on that train platform? If the year doesn't matter much, then modern photos would help.
Of course most of those calculations were irrelevant regardless. The Sun was not out on that August afternoon seventy years ago. If you could not determine local time to better than plus or minus an hour or two, then the equation of time at +/-15 minutes is not a concern. The time zone offset is also not much concern, but if you get a better photo, you'll want to include that, too.
Hey, there's something odd in the photo. In the middle of the platform, there's a utility pole. It has no shadow! Is it perhaps some sort of "spectral utility pole" from another dimension??
You know, I just realized that we're talking about shadows in New Zealand, and shadows in New Zealand are one of the biggest export products of the country in the past two years: Jemaine Clement's What We Do in the Shadows (good fun, if you like "mockumentary" humor... and vampires... the film that the series is based on, from 2014, is also fun).
PS: Added at the last minute based on your latest post... You asked about the day of the week. Google does indeed list the day of week as its very first result, but I suspect this is biased for standard American date formats. If I Google "August 18, 1950", it works. It was a Friday.