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A Lesson in Latitude

A Lesson in Latitude

Maybe it’s because of my American sense of geography, but I have trouble grasping how far north Germany actually is. Where I live now has fairly similar weather to where I grew up – just slightly less extreme highs and lows. But I now live over ten degrees further north.

For reference – the 49th Parallel, the line that forms much of the western border between Canada and the US, runs through my state here.

Original Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, 49th Parallel marked in red by me
Original Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, 49th Parallel marked in red by me

I noticed it over the summer when the sun seemed to stay up forever, but it’s gotten worse – I blame the Daylight Savings Time change.  I think I had adjusted to the dark German winter with its sunsets in the late afternoon. I’m a night owl and a fan of computers and artificial light, so that didn’t bother me too much.

This evening sun, on the other hand, is driving me crazy. I’m used to later sunsets in the peak of the summer, not in April. I keep getting surprised at how late it is when I notice the clock. How can it be seven in the evening with the sun blazing in through the window?

The hour jump forward definitely exaggerated the problem. The clock shifts a few weeks later here than in the US, so I almost think my body thought it happened already with the way the sunsets were lining up. Now I always feel like it’s two hours earlier in the evening than it should be.

I don’t have any problem with the sunrise, though, because Germans prefer heavy shutters that block out all light. The rising sun will never wake me up because our apartment turns into a cave overnight.

I assume I’ll get used to it eventually, but it’s still crazy to me the difference latitude makes.

Full map here if you want to brush up on your geography.

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