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.
- The sun is 400,000 times brighter than the full moon.
- The full moon is 300 times brighter than ALL the stars.
- Only half of the stars (approx) are in the night sky, so only 1/600 of the full moon.
- The sparsity of stars.
- Venus is easy to find and is the brightest object after the sun and moon. The accumulated light of all the stars is only one and a half times the
brightness of Venus but as only half of the stars can be seen at any one time, they only amount to three quarters the brightness of Venus.
- Stars are various colors - for example, a red star's red light will not reflect off a blue object, such as the sea or a blue iceberg. That reduces
the reflectable starlight even further.
- Only the starlight on the lookout men's side of the iceberg could potentially reflect back to them. The light of the western stars would reflect
back toward the west, not come to the lookout men.
- When the iceberg was finally seen when lit up by Titanic's lights it was described as dark, which means that hardly any light reflected,
but was absorbed by the berg. This is understandable – a berg is crystaline and so the light goes inside the berg and reflects almost nothing.
It is no wonder the berg was not seen at a distance, it was black, on a black sea, under a black sky.
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.