If Videoconference Apps Corrected Orientation for Location

Yes, it would look unusual. And I’m not suggesting videoconference apps should provide this feature. But I was on a long boring Zoom meeting the other day and my mind was wandering. I attempted to visualize what the other participants’ actual orientations were relative to me. Obviously, we can’t all be right-side-up because the Earth is round.

So I pulled some generic humans from my clip art files and constructed this visualization. To get the correct amount of rotation I used Google Earth’s ruler tool and set the units of measurement to “degrees”. Distances between points will automatically be measured along what is called a great circle on the globe. The arc length in degrees along a great circle = the amount of rotation of participants.

Here’s what my measurement for Arizona to Mauna Kea looked like. Click to enlarge:

Results for all locations are tabulated below:

Mauna Kea 41°
Melbourne 119°
Tokyo 83°
New Delhi 117°
Mauritius 163°
Cape Town 139°
London 76°
New York 31°

For locations to the west I rotated participants to the left. Locations to the east were rotated to the right. This was an arbitrary choice but seemed logical for visualizing participants relative to my own orientation.

Interestingly, the maximum length of a great circle measurement is 180°. That’s the farthest apart two points on a sphere can be. At that location a participant would appear exactly upside-down. Disappointingly, for my Arizona location there is no land at the antipode. The closest I could get to a upside-down participant was the tiny island nation of Mauritius, 900 km east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

The actual antipode for Arizona would be 2000 km southeast of Mauritius, also in the Indian Ocean and with no land in sight. A participant in a boat at that location would be rotated 180° on my monitor.

There’s an easy online tool from https://www.geocachingtoolbox.com for finding the antipode of your location. If you drilled a hole straight down through the center of the Earth, where would you emerge? (FYI: That’s a great question for Flat Earthers.) Here’s my antipode result for Arizona:

Not like anyone needs to be reminded Earth is round. This was just a fun exercise in geometry. Next time you’re in a videoconference, ponder how the other participants aren’t really right-side-up compared to you. And if you’re really bored, open Google Earth in a new window.

Next Week in Sky Lights ⇒ Lunar Eclipse vs. Fast Clouds

Q&A: How We Knew Space Was a Vacuum
Lunar Eclipse vs. Fast Clouds