Titanic — A Clear Night

It was a clear night. Does that mean anything could be seen? Yes – one thing and one thing only – the stars!

Some will say, "But it was a very clear night. It ought to have been possible to see things." I say, "No!" Clear or totally clouded over, it would be impossible to see anything in either case. It is the remark "It was a clear night" that has caused wrong thinking for 100 years. There was no sun and no moon, therefore there was no light and so it was pitch black dark. It is impossible to see any object unless there is light and in nature we only see an object by the sunlight that reflects off it. The sunlight can be direct, or via the moon (moonlight), or via the sky (twilight) or even via a mirage but at the time of the accident there was no sunlight coming from anywhere.

What about starlight? It is impossible to see anything by starlight! It is much too faint, by a long, long, long way.
A new theory suggests a mirage may have shown ships and objects in other than their true positions. The scientific basis of mirages and refraction is fairly easy to understand but for a mirage to work there is one essential ingredient, and that ingredient is light, but on Titanic's night there was no light.

There was a very faint "haze" on the horizon. Suggestions have been made that the iceberg could potentially have been seen silhouetted against this haze. That defies geometry. A 50ft high iceberg seen from a crowsnest 90 ft above the sea most assuredly cannot silhouette on the horizon.

The strange "haze" could be seen at all points of the compass. What caused it? 100+ years have gone by and despite various theories, such as mist on the horizon, it is still not known what it is. The moment I heard about the haze I thought of something. Only a couple of minutes were needed to set the date and time and Titanic's co-ordinates into my faithful old 1994 skyglobe program and there on the screen was the Milky Way, completely around the horizon as required. And it will be there again and again for all time. I think I am the first to come up with this idea, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Milky Way on the horizon
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