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The Sun in Time

Slide Show
sun_in_time_ssm.jpg (10439 bytes)
Directory of Images
(click on the hyperlinked text to go directly to a particular page or section)
Slide Show, page 1
Aztec Calendar
Intihuatana at Machu Picchu
Observations 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 people 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.
Slide Show, page 2 Stonehenge, aerial view
Stonehenge, heel stone
Slide Show, page 3 Woodhenge, Cahokia
El Castillo, Chichen Itza
Slide Show, page 4 El Caracol, Chichen Itza
The Sun, with spots
Slide Show, page 5 SOHO EIT 304, 195, 284
Slide Show, page 6 Electric Transformer Damage
Large Sunspot Region
Slide Show, page 7 Vector example
Dipole magnet
Slide Show, page 8 Solar spectrum
Zeeman splitting
MSFC Vector Magnetograph
Slide Show, page 9 MSFC Vector Magnetogram
Experiments Build a sundial
Build a sextant

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 Earth, the variation throughout the year of sunrise/sunset positions on the horizon, 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 Adams
mitzi dot adams @ msfc dot nasa dot gov
(256) 961-7626