Directory of Images
(click on the hyperlinked text to go directly to a particular page or section)
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at Machu Picchu
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Castillo, Chichen Itza
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||SOHO EIT 304,
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||Build a sundial
of the Sun over centuries, if not millennia, resulted in "architectural
alignments" which served a calendrical and ritual purpose in many ancient societies throughout
the world. The Sun in Time web pages give examples of several well known
archaeological sites which served at least two purposes: they marked "special"
positions of the Sun and were sites of worship. By studying the ancient cultures who
built such sites, we better understand that the science of today is based on simple, but
careful, observation. For instance, at Machu Picchu in Peru, when the Sun rose
through one specific window in a building called the Torreon, the Inca knew that the dry
season had begun (winter solstice in the southern hemisphere). So, by knowing when
the Sun rose at its most southeasterly or northeasterly point (winter and summer solstices
in the northern hemisphere, respectively), and marking these positions with
architecture, our ancestors began to develop a calendar.
From an exposure to the Sun in Time
program, we hope that students will gain an awareness of celestial motions; for example,
the daily motion of the Sun across the sky due to the rotation of the Earth, the variation
throughout the year of sunrise/sunset positions, and the maximum angle of the Sun above
the horizon. The images given within these web pages, begin with introductory images
(Aztec calendar/Intihuatana Stone), proceed from the relatively simple archaeological
sites to the more complex ones, and end with modern methods of viewing/studying the Sun.
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To return to the Sun in Time home page, click here.
This work was paid for by the NASA IDEAS program.
Please direct comments, questions, and suggestions to:
mitzi dot adams @ msfc dot nasa dot gov