[OT] Mecca and prayer from space

Ken Pizzini tz. at explicate.org
Wed Apr 26 19:56:48 UTC 2006

On Tue, Apr 25, 2006 at 09:57:35PM -0700, Paul Eggert wrote:
>    But as Zainal Abidin Abdul Rashid of Malaysia National University
>    pointed out at the seminar, the space station circles the Earth 16
>    times in 24 hours, with a sunrise and sunset occurring about every
>    90 minutes.
>    "Does this mean we have to perform 80 prayers a day," he said in
>    his seminar paper.

They're also supposed to face Mecca when they pray.  On the surface
of earth that's essentially interpreted as "in the direction of
the shortest path on the surface of earth" (as opposed to, say,
standing on one's head at Mecca's antipode).  I suppose from space
it'd almost mean "with the head pointing towards earth"...

Except that the ISS's low orbit at 400 km above the surface of the
earth leaves a not insignificant variation in the direction towards
Mecca, and if the rule is to be interpreted as "the shortest path
without tunneling through earth", then the calculation of the
correct direction becomes even uglier.

		--Ken Pizzini

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