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JUST HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?

Cut two pieces of drawing paper to fit the bottoms of two
sturdy cardboard boxes. Draw a 90 degree angle with 8 inch
sides on one piece of the paper. Mark off and label every 5 degrees of arc within the angle and label the base WX. Turn one box bottom side up, and fasten the paper to it. Insert a pin at each 5 degree mark on the arc.

Do the same on the second paper but reverse the angle and
label the base YZ. Place the boxes facing some distant
object such as a telephone pole, tree, or television antenna.

Line up the boxes so that the pins WXYZ are in a straight
line. Measure the distance from W to Z and record it as the base of an imaginary triangle. Look from point W to the distant object and decide what angle on the arc is directly between the observer and the object. Do the same from point Z. Now make a scale drawing of line WXYZ and the angles measured at W and Z.

Extend the angles of their drawing until the lines intersect, then draw a perpendicular line from the baseline
through the intersection.

By measuring this line and converting the scale, you will
know the approximate distance to the object. Check this by
actually measuring the distance to the object.

You will realize that this method allows you to measure the
distance to objects without actually going to them. If you
use the method to measure the distance to other objects, you might discover that the longer the distance to be measured, the more closely parallel the lines become and the greater the chance for error.

The brilliant scientist tells us that since the moon is very far away, astronomers use a very long baseline, such as the diameter of the earth, to measure the distance to the moon.

This is another indication of the value of higher math. If
you ever want to visit the moon, you can see how far it is,
and you can calculate how much gas to buy and how many
sandwiches you should take along.

I wonder how you can measure the distance of something you
cannot see? I mean, without the inconvenience of looking at a map.

 

 
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