How realistic is the celestial navigation in Moon Knight?

Our planet also changes position. In six months, the Earth will pass from one side of the Sun to the other. That’s a distance change of nearly 300 million kilometers, and it’s enough to cause a noticeable apparent position shift for some of the nearest stars. In fact, parallax is an important tool for measuring the distance to these stars. (Here are the other ways to measure stellar distances.)

So, yes, the constellations change, but not that much.

Find your longitude

Here’s how to find your longitude with a clock and a star chart. Let’s start with the sky map. Suppose there is a star on this map that will always be directly above a point in Greenwich, England at 4am local time, which we would call Greenwich Mean Time. (I didn’t choose Greenwich at random. The prime meridian, or 0-degree line of longitude, runs through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, so it’s good for measurements.)

Now imagine you are in another location and trying to figure out where you are using that same star. You will need to know what time it is when this star appears directly above your head at your location. Hence the clock.

Checking the time reveals that, where you are, this star appears directly above your head at 1 a.m., instead of 4 a.m., which is three hours earlier than Greenwich. This means you are three hours out of 24 west of Geenwich. If you want to convert this to degrees, it would be (3/24) × 360 = 45 degrees. This would put you on a line of longitude that runs through Greenland and Brazil. (Things can get a bit more complicated than that, since you probably wouldn’t have a star directly above your head, but you get the idea.)

Then, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, you can use the North Star to calculate your latitude and determine your exact location on the planet where these lines of latitude and longitude intersect. Luckily, it’s not in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

What’s wrong with moon knight?

Now is the time to talk about Moon Knight. (Some spoilers ahead.) In Episode 3, Khonshu’s earth avatar Moon Knight teamed up with Marc’s wife, Layla. They try to find the tomb of the Egyptian god Ammit. If Ammit is released, she will harm the human race, so they really want to get there first. They’ve assembled parts of a burial shroud to form an ancient star map and want to use it to find the location of the tomb, which resembles celestial navigation.

But there is a problem: this map was made 2,000 years ago, so the arrangement of the constellations is wrong. The stars have since moved on to new positions. Since Moon Knight is Khonshu’s avatar, he uses his powers to move the stars in the sky in the pattern shown when creating the map. Problem solved. Moon Knight and Layla manage to get to Ammit’s grave.

Comments are closed.