Published: 2009-11-20 16:32:50
Updated: 2009-11-20 16:32:50
Posted November 20, 2009 4:32 p.m. EST
By Amy Sayle, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
You'd think a vampire who must avoid sunlight lest he reveal himself might become pretty knowledgeable about where the sun can appear in the sky.
But Edward Cullen, the vampire who will sparkle on movie screens when "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" opens today, gets it wrong and invents an impossible sun in his reunion scene with heroine Bella Swan.
Mistakenly thinking Bella is dead, Edward decides to step into the sunlight in a crowded plaza in Volterra, Italy, to force the ruling vampire family to destroy him. He plans to wait until the sun is "directly overhead"—at the very top of the sky.
Edward will be waiting a long time unless his talents include not only those revealed in the previous Twilight movie—mind reading, van lifting, and really fast running—but also continent relocation.
That's because only fairly near the equator, in the latitudes of the tropics (from 23½ degrees south to 23½ degrees north), can the sun ever pass directly overhead. North Carolina isn't in the topics, and neither is Italy. The latitude of Volterra is 43 degrees north; the Triangle area is 36 degrees north.
On March 19, the day of Bella and Edward's Italian adventure, the sun passes only halfway up the sky in Volterra at its highest point around noon.
As Edward steps toward the definitely-not-coming-from-directly-overhead sunlight, many movie viewers will likely be focused on actor Robert Pattinson's bare chest. When I watch that scene (as further, um, "research"), I'll be searching for the telltale shadows that will give away the sun's true position for the date and location the scene was filmed.
But maybe it's appropriate for our heroes to reunite under an impossible sun. When they separated earlier in the story, Bella mixed up her astronomy by inventing an apparently impossible moon.
You can see the real moon in a vampire-free setting this Saturday, Nov. 21. Weather permitting, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center will host a skywatching session from 6 to 8 p.m. at Jordan Lake's Ebenezer Church Recreation Area.