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Q: "Sight" -- Can you see Cuba from the United States? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: "Sight" -- Can you see Cuba from the United States?
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: latino123-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 05 Apr 2004 02:07 PDT
Expires: 05 May 2004 02:07 PDT
Question ID: 325314
Is it possible to see with your own eyes (no binoculars or other help)
Cuba from the United States? and if so, from what US city (e.g. Miami,
Key West)? Also, What can you see? Light? I imagine that you need a
very very good day/night in order to see something, what is the best
season or time of the day? Any other related info would be
appreciated (e.g. Maybe you need to be in the roof of a big building
to see something) Thanks.
Subject: Re: "Sight" -- Can you see Cuba from the United States?
Answered By: eiffel-ga on 05 Apr 2004 03:33 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi latino123-ga,

It's commonly said that on a clear day you can almost see Cuba from
Key West. And some people forget to include the word "almost" when
they repeat this claim.

Unfortunately, Cuba is too far from the US to be seen from ground
level. It's 90 miles from Key West to Cuba. Allowing for the curvature
of the earth, a person in Key West would be able to see Cuba if there
was a Cuban mountain 2059 feet high - but the highest Cuban ground
near the 90-mile point is only 344 feet above sea level. Tim Sevener
explains the maths in a Usenet newsgroup posting:

"it was *physically impossible* to see Cuba from Key West, given the
curvature of the Earth. The highest point anywhere close to the 90
mile point from Key West on Cuba is 344 feet. The height of the
tangent line of sight from Key West to a point 90 miles away is 2059
feet. I.e. there is a difference of *1700* feet between the tangent
line of sight and the highest point in Cuba close to 90 miles from Key
Newsgroup posting to sci.misc

You can read the whole thread here:
"The Last Word on Friedman, Sevener and Cuba"*%2522%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26c2coff%3D1%26safe%3Doff%26selm%3D3925%2540whuts.UUCP%26rnum%3D1
and you will see that much heated argument followed about whether
refraction of light might make it possible to occasionally see Cuba
from the US. However, even making the most extreme assumptions leads
to a calculation that a mountain at the end of Cuba would need to be
844 feet high to be seen from the US under hypothetical
high-refraction conditions (see the same Tim Sevener posting
referenced above for details).

And even visiting a high point in Key West (such as the 10th floor of
Howard Johnson's La Concha) isn't going to gain you enough height to
make it possible:

Of course, if you're flying then you can certainly see Cuba from above Key West!

Finally, consider that the tourist brochures that promise you can
(almost) see Cuba would certainly have photos if it were indeed

I hope you find this information useful, and trust that you're not too

Google search strategy:

"see cuba" "key west"

"can see cuba from *"

Google Groups search strategy:

"can see cuba from *"*%22

Google Images search strategy:

"cuba from" "key west"

latino123-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thank you very much, this is what I was expecting. Excellent answer.

Subject: Re: "Sight" -- Can you see Cuba from the United States?
From: eiffel-ga on 05 Apr 2004 11:20 PDT
Thanks, latino123, for your kind tip.


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