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In the third season of The Leftovers, episode 3, there is a scene where Kevin Garvey, Sr. calls Matt Jamison from a pay phone outside of Melbourne, AU. Matt is in Miracle, TX, however both locations show that it is the middle of the day.

There is a 15 hour time difference between these locations; Australia is 15 hours ahead of Texas. That means that in order for there to be daylight in both locations there needs to be 15 hours difference between sunrise in one location and sunset in the other location. Also keep in mind the scene in question takes place in early fall, given the whole season takes place over about a weeks time leading up to October, 14th. The phone call seems to be several weeks prior to this so I'm guessing sometime in September.

So is it possible for there to be daylight in Australia and Texas at the same time? My own calculations say no, but I'm not sure if I'm missing something.

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    It is impossible for two locations to be more than 12 hours apart, as far as the time of day is concerned. Melbourne and Miracle are only nine hours apart in the day cycle, but sometimes on different days. – Aric TenEyck Jul 8 at 21:39
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    @MichaelMacAskill 13h ahead, but only 11h apart as far as daylight is concerned, is the point being made. I might be 24h ahead of you for some funny reason, but noon would be at the same time for both of us. – DevSolar Jul 9 at 12:06
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It's possible.

Google says 8am in Melbourne is 5pm in Austin

enter image description here

It's technically on a different day, which is possibly where the confusion lies, but around September both would be somewhere near equinox, so both should be in daylight around that time.
15 hours one way is 24-15=9 hours the other way, crossing the International date line.

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  • I think that during September (as OP stated) it's actually 16 hours due to Austin being in Central Daylight Time. – Ross Presser Jul 9 at 2:04
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    Did you check that information? The time difference above is already when TX is on summertime. If we're going to be really picky, then there will probably be two weeks when TX is back to wintertime, but Melbourne hasn't yet gone to summertime. I really didn't think we needed that much detail. Just because the clocks change doesn't mean the sun will suddenly appear in the sky an hour later the next day. Only the clocks changed, the distance between the two locations remains the same. – Tetsujin Jul 9 at 6:50
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    Apparently I misread. On September 18th, it is 15 hours. On October 7, it is 16 hours because Australia has moved to Summer time. On November 7, it is 17 hours because Austin has then moved back to Standard time. – Ross Presser Jul 9 at 11:20
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    And you are correct; the question was about the sun in the sky, not the time on the clock. – Ross Presser Jul 9 at 11:20
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    To add to this, time and date lists Sunset time as 19:33 on September 14th in Dallas, and sunrise time as 6:20 in Melbourne on the 15th. If the call took place at the proposed 8:00/17:00, both locations would be roughly two hours since/from sunrise/set. – Alexandre Aubrey Jul 9 at 15:27
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Comparing times is not a great way of checking for daylight as time zones are very unevenly distributed.

solar "noon" can occur as late as 15:00 in western portions of China

Better to just some simple geometry, logic, and, as pointed out in the comics, some knowledge about Earth's movements relative to the Sun:

If

  1. half the globe is in daylight at all times;
  2. the furthest away two points can be is halfway across the globe;
  3. and the Earth rotates fast enough relative to its revolutions around the Sun and the apparent size of the Sun in the sky such that all points on the globe can view the Sun at some point during an equinox;

then there must be some time when any two points are both in daylight.

Alternatively, just look at a globe and try to see both Texas and Australia at the same time:

globe with both Australia and Texas

Note that while they can both be in daylight at the same time, they cannot both be near solar noon at the same time. So that would be an inaccuracy in the show.

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    Your conclusion is not wrong, but I'm not sure that it follows from your premises. For example, the farthest any two points on the moon can be from each other is halfway around the moon and only half of the moon faces Earth at any given time, but it is not true that there will be some time at which any given two points on the moon will be facing Earth (indeed, a large percentage of the moon never faces Earth at all, due to tidal locking.) – reirab Jul 8 at 18:02
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    @reirab: How is that relevant..? The question and answer about the Earth and Sun. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jul 8 at 22:32
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    To follow up @reirab’s comment: the extra condition needed is that some angle you can “see” both from must be an angle the sun can be at — in other words, that there’s a globe view containing them both, and centred on somewhere in the tropics (i.e. the zone where the sun can ever be directly overhead). The view shown here is centred on the mid-Pacific — quite possibly, on a spot in the tropics — or if not quite, rotating the globe on an axis passing (from our viewpoint) behind Melbourne & TX will quickly bring the tropics to the centre while keeping Melbourne & TX visible. – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Jul 8 at 22:32
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft: the point in reirab’s comment is that this answer claims to rely just on “simple geometry and logic” — but it must also rely on some specifics of the Earth and the Sun, since if geometry and logic alone sufficed then the same would have to hold for the Moon + Earth, which it doesn’t. – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Jul 8 at 22:35
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    @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine I think it is, fairly, implied that any human reader knows about the concept of night and day.. – smcs Jul 9 at 0:13
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Others have answered that it is, at the very least, possible for it to be daytime in both places but impossible to be midday in both places. I'd like to answer a related question, "how close to solar midday can both these locations get, and when?"

As for "how high," that is easily found by taking half of the great-circle distance between the two places and converting it to degrees on the Earth's surface. Using Austin as a stand-in for the uncertain location of Miracle, we find that to be 64.3 degrees from noon, or 25.7 degrees above the horizon in both locations.

As for when, that's a little bit trickier. The midpoint of the shortest great-circle path between Melbourne and Austin lies at (-7.200, -152.217) in the central Pacific ocean (obtained via Google Earth). The answer to this question is, "When will the subsolar point come closest to this location?"

Using timeanddate.com, and some old-fashioned trial and error, I have found the closest time and date (in UTC) to that time for 2020, to the minute: 10 October at 21:56 UTC, which corresponds to 11 October, 8:56 AM in Melbourne, and 10 October, 4:56 PM in Austin. At this time, the sun is 25.7 degrees above the horizon in both places.

The exact date will depend on the latitude of Miracle (From 25 September at the point in Texas furthest North to 21 October at the point furthest south), while the exact time will depend more strongly on its longitude (from 21:46 at the point furthest East to 22:20 at the point furthest west, but still varying with latitude).

EDIT: It occurs to me that there are two times of year where this takes place. The other time of year, assuming again Austin, is 1 March, 22:21 UTC, which is 9:21 AM in Melbourne and 4:21 PM in Texas. Also, I corrected 7:56 to 8:56.

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    Miracle is being shot in Lockhart, TX, which is about 30 miles due south of Austin. – Ross Presser Jul 9 at 2:05
  • nice, well done! – uhoh Jul 9 at 10:24
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On a Summer’s day like today, 08 July 2020, the sun will rise in Texas at about 6:30 AM and set about 8:30 PM Central Daylight Time. The sky will be light around 30 minutes before sunrise and about 30 minutes after sunset. That is roughly 15 hours of daylight. Theoretically, first light and last light may happen simultaneously in the two locations during the Northern hemisphere summer months. Unfortunately, the US Navy sunrise/set calculator is currently down for service for me to make a more scientific analysis.

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  • Of course a summer's day in Texas is a winter's day in Australia... – colmde Jul 12 at 7:59
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I don't know what day the scene takes place, but assuming it is today, 8th July 2020, then Wolfram|Alpha1 calculates that the sun rose in Melbourne 4 hours before it set in Austin. The additional day is due to the cities being on opposite sides of the international date line. For 8 Jan there is 4.5 hours of shared sunlight.

At 09:52:52AEST 9 July 2020, (18:52:52CDT 8 July 2020) 2 the sun will be just under 20deg above the horizon in both cities.

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Yes.

Let's go with your assumption that the call took place in the middle of September.

Time and date lists sunset time as 19:33 on September 14th in Dallas (I couldn't find Mircale, TX), and sunrise time as 6:20 in Melbourne on the 15th.

With the 15-hour difference, if the call took place at 8:30 on September 15th in Melbourne, it would be 17:30, September 14th in Texas and both locations would be roughly two hours since/from sunrise/set and it would be bright outside at both locations.

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Yes. Nowadays it is possible. Map of daylight for 2020/07/11 14:00 UTC

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    Nowadays possible? – Spectra Jul 11 at 14:32

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