Angular Measure and Range


Q1: Examine the above picture. Identify the objects in the picture. What unusual phenomena do you see in this picture? Describe them.

Q2: The aircraft in the picture appears to be a MD-11 airliner, of known dimensions (wingspan 51.8m, length 61.2m, height 17.7m). Given that the sun subtends a known angle of 33 minutes of arc, can you use the definition of arc length to determine the range to the aircraft from the photographer?

Q3: Given a sun-earth distance of approximately 150 x 106 km, can you determine the approximate height of the solar prominence pictured at about 8:30 on the edge of the sun's disk? Compare the size of the prominence to the length of the aircraft, and to the radius of the Earth (approximately 6400 km).


This image was presented, discussed and analyzed in a PHYS-L interchange by subscribers Stefan Jeglinski, Skip Kilmer, Rondo Jeffery, John Denker, Tim Sullivan, Dan MacIsaac, Leigh Palmer and Bernard Cleyet. Their complete discussion is available at

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