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#1
Old 05-13-2012, 06:50 PM
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Is Alaska east or west? Or both?

Does anything Alaskan cross the international date line -- making it both the westernmost and easternmost US state? I can't seem to get a definitive answer to this. It may involve the position of the Aleutian Islands off the Alaskan coast.
#2
Old 05-13-2012, 06:55 PM
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The international dateline is intentionally drawn so that Alaska falls on out side of it.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:59 PM
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The westernmost (or easternmost) parts of Alaska are beyond the 180th meridian, but the international dateline is drawn so that all of Alaska is east of it. The international dateline has other jobs as well.
#4
Old 05-13-2012, 07:35 PM
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To answer the question you didn't ask, the furthest east part of the US is either Wake Island in the +12 timezone (if you count closest to 180 degree meridian) or Palmyra Atoll in the Line Islands (if you count being in a timzeone on the "east" side of the date line). The line islands are a long way past the 180 meridian but are in the +14 timezone.

see here:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._Date_Line.png

Last edited by coremelt; 05-13-2012 at 07:38 PM.
#5
Old 05-14-2012, 02:24 AM
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Alaska is all west. It has nothing to do with the IDT (which has no actual existence), but rather where you measure east-westness from. For a country, or part of a country or whatever, you set your base meridian somewhere inside the country. Doing this, no matter where in the US you set the base meridian, all of Alaska is in the west.

Don't be fooled by the fact that the 180th meridian goes through the Aleutian islands. That meridian is based on London (well, Greenwich, actually), which is not part of the US. It's convenient for navigators to all use the same prime meridian, so some time in the 1880s, there was an international agreement to do that based on the British meridian. Prior to that, every seafaring nation had their own meridian, usually based on their national observatory. The US's was based on the Naval Observatory in Washington DC.1

But that's for navigation, which you aren't doing when figuring out is Alaska is east or west, so you don't have to (and should not) use the Greenwich-based longitude.

As far as the Date Line, it's just a convenience that map makers put on their maps to demarcate those countries whose official time is ahead of GMT from those whose official time is behind. That's all it is.


1 There's one residual effect of the US prime meridian being at the Naval Observatory. The Naval Observatory's Greenwich-based meridian is about 7 minutes off an even degree. There's a number of north-south state boundaries in the US which were all set before the agreement noted above. So they all (except one) are 7 minutes off an even degree. For some reason, California set its eastern boundary at 120 degrees west of Greenwich, so it's the one exception.
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#6
Old 05-14-2012, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Alaska is all west. It has nothing to do with the IDT (which has no actual existence), but rather where you measure east-westness from. For a country, or part of a country or whatever, you set your base meridian somewhere inside the country. Doing this, no matter where in the US you set the base meridian, all of Alaska is in the west.

Don't be fooled by the fact that the 180th meridian goes through the Aleutian islands. That meridian is based on London (well, Greenwich, actually), which is not part of the US. It's convenient for navigators to all use the same prime meridian, so some time in the 1880s, there was an international agreement to do that based on the British meridian. Prior to that, every seafaring nation had their own meridian, usually based on their national observatory. The US's was based on the Naval Observatory in Washington DC.1

But that's for navigation, which you aren't doing when figuring out is Alaska is east or west, so you don't have to (and should not) use the Greenwich-based longitude.

As far as the Date Line, it's just a convenience that map makers put on their maps to demarcate those countries whose official time is ahead of GMT from those whose official time is behind. That's all it is.


1 There's one residual effect of the US prime meridian being at the Naval Observatory. The Naval Observatory's Greenwich-based meridian is about 7 minutes off an even degree. There's a number of north-south state boundaries in the US which were all set before the agreement noted above. So they all (except one) are 7 minutes off an even degree. For some reason, California set its eastern boundary at 120 degrees west of Greenwich, so it's the one exception.
Sorry, but if I bring my GPS to the tip of the Aleutians, it will show a position with an Eastern longitude; I would be in the Eastern Hemisphere. Use of other prime meridians is at best a footnote of interest.
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by BwanaBob View Post
Sorry, but if I bring my GPS to the tip of the Aleutians, it will show a position with an Eastern longitude; I would be in the Eastern Hemisphere. Use of other prime meridians is at best a footnote of interest.
Indeed Attu Island is listed by both Wikipedia and Google Maps, as 172 degrees East. By a trick of the dateline you can claim its the furthest west, but its equally valid to claim it as part of the (very) far east.

Actually I was wrong above, Wiki claims that Semisopochnoi island is actually the easternmost point in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semisopochnoi_Island

Last edited by coremelt; 05-14-2012 at 06:40 AM.
#8
Old 05-14-2012, 07:23 AM
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Dtilque is correct. When selecting an easternmost point in a country, it's always determined as the longest distance from the center of that country (by the shortest route to it).

The US has a westernmost point that happens to have an east longitude, but that doesn't change the fact that to get to that point from anywhere in the US, the shortest route is in a western direction.
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#9
Old 05-14-2012, 07:32 AM
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But if you are standing in the continental USA, (or anywhere west of Greenwich) Alaska and the Aleuts are much closer to you going west than going east, so the logical description is that they are "west". Longitude has little to do with it. Someone standing on that last island does not describe the Alaskan mainland and the rest of the Aleutians as "West" of them, they are east of the final island. In a circular (global, spherical) environment I imagine the convention is "which way" means which direction is shortest.
#10
Old 05-14-2012, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Dtilque is correct. When selecting an easternmost point in a country, it's always determined as the longest distance from the center of that country (by the shortest route to it).
Unless you are in Antarctica.
#11
Old 05-14-2012, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Dtilque is correct. When selecting an easternmost point in a country, it's always determined as the longest distance from the center of that country (by the shortest route to it).
.
sure when talking about the Aleutians as west or eastern parts of the US, they are west of the US mainland. But on a global scale it's valid to talk about the far Aleutians past the 180 meridian as part of the far east.
#12
Old 05-14-2012, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
The international dateline has other jobs as well.
You know the economy is bad when even the dateline has to get a second job. I called one of those datelines that are advertised on late-light TV once. It must have had a second job as well because the talk quickly turned from sexy girls in my neighborhood to outright propositions for escort services.
#13
Old 05-14-2012, 10:40 AM
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To answer your question "Is Alaska east or west?" let me ask the OP one.
Of what? East and west are relative directions.
#14
Old 05-14-2012, 11:59 AM
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East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet...

I mean really, if you are going to get this nitpicky about directions, Mark does not want to talk to you. Kipling told me so.
#15
Old 05-14-2012, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet...

I mean really, if you are going to get this nitpicky about directions, Mark does not want to talk to you. Kipling told me so.
Was he the one that went east from Java to get to Krakatoa?
#16
Old 05-14-2012, 05:22 PM
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Similarly, Hawaii could be said to be the westernmost or easternmost state,, if you count the rest of the archipelago. "But is the southernmost state.
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