If you looked straight out across the Atlantic Ocean from the east coast of the United States what would you expect to be facing? It’s fairly likely that you would actually be viewing the west coast of Australia and possibly even Asia’s south coast, if you could hypothetically see that far.
In a project called Beyond the Sea, cartographer Andy Woodruff has created a series of maps showing where our line of sight actually leads us if we gaze out over the ocean. What we would potentially see is all to do with Earth’s curvature, but also, coastlines are often jagged and face in all kinds of directions.
Andy actually did a lot of the leg-work and calculations himself, as well as designing the graphics. As he explains fully on his website: “Taking ‘across the ocean’ to mean directly across, perpendicular to the coast, then what’s across the ocean depends on where you’re standing!
“To get a rough idea of what direction the world’s coastlines face, I’m calculating the angle between every pair of adjacent coastal vertices in medium scale Natural Earth data, then placing a point in between them and measuring the view from there based on that angle.”
Each map shows the coastal views to the labeled continent. So, for example, the map below shows that Asia can be seen from coastlines of Africa, Australia, and even South America.
All images courtesy of Andy Woodruff
Australia and Oceania