The stalking started when I set up my beach chair and assorted paraphernalia for a nice stint on the deserted white sands of Laguna Beach, Florida. My plan was to while away the afternoon reading and watching the waves roll in from the Gulf. But as soon as I got settled, I realized that the glare off the water from the bright winter sun directly in front of me was too annoying to ignore. So I stood, returned my book – my tablet is unreadable in the sunlight – to my bag, folded the beach chair and hiked along the shore. I traveled at least 500 feet, stopped and set up again. After all was situated, I plopped down into the low-slung webbed chair ready to relax, but to my chagrin I was blinded again by the bright glare off the water. “WTF?” I turned my head and looked to my left. No sunny glare, just deep blue-green water met by a bright blue sky. I turned and stared toward the horizon on my right. The same. Endless water and sky. But smack in front of me were the sun and its devilish twin, reflecting into my ineffective $300 Polarized UV protective prescription sun glasses. “How can this be?” I grumble. So I got up and trekked in the opposite direction, leaving my chair and bag behind. I walked and walked, turning occasionally to make sure the sea gulls didn’t carry my stuff away. (They were the only other living creatures in the immediate vicinity.) When my previous perch was almost out of visual range, I turned and faced the water. “Surely the sun has not come this far,” I reasoned. “ Surely I tricked him by switching up my plan.” But there he is, with a blinding white glare. “So the sun IS stalking me,” I concluded. I gave up and returned to my chair. The sun followed. I adjusted my body just a bit, so the glare did not blind me directly, only peripherally, and got out my book.
An image from my childhood comes to my mind as I write this:
Myself and my siblings are in the back of our big 1947 De Soto, stretched out over the folded-down rumble seat. We are staring out the slanted window of the hatch back at the night sky as we drive down US 50 on our way home from Hillsboro, Ohio and a day at Rocky Fork Lake. The moon, a bright white orb hovering high above, stays with us all the way to Kentucky. She is smiling down, watching us. She has no need of movement, we are the ones moving. She just stays there, following our little speck of a car loaded with 2 adults and 8 kids for the 70 or so miles we travel.
I know there is a logical scientific explanation for these phenomena, which I doubtless have heard before. But I can’t grasp it at this time. So, excuse me for a bit while I GOOGLE this. “Why do the sun and moon seem to follow me?” I’ll be back in a few minutes and let you know what I learn.
So I got several explanations, all good. The first site uses a lot of geometry and angles and distance and such. The size of the object viewed, the distance and angle between the object and the viewer and the speed with which the viewer is moving all come into play, causing the object viewed to seem to follow the viewer. Too complicated for this piece. A few other sites were ok, but the best was an explanation geared for children, which is right up my alley. It seems that things very far away, like the Sun, moon, stars, or mountains will take a much longer time to move past your line of vision as you move. If you are flying in a supersonic jet, you may see the sun and moon move out of your line of site a little faster, but still they will not pass by like the farms and cities below you. Another analogy could go like this. You are a flea on the butt of a Rhino who is lumbering ever so slowly along the Savannah on his way to the muddy watering hole. You look out from between the stiff grey rhino hairs that are like tree trunks to you and far away you see one of those big African trees, the kind that spread out like a mushroom. The tree seems to stay with you, never leaving your tiny flea eye-sight. All the way to the watering hole you see the tree, until a big gray mass moves by and you hop off the Rhino’s ass onto the side of an elephant.
So I guess the Sun was not stalking me.