Posted by pauld | Filed under Total Solar Eclipse: Live from China
After writing my first post on sunrises and moonrises I was pleased to walk from our site in the barren desert to our neighbor site, a plaza with several super sundials, an orrery, and a local “Stonehenge”.
The green of the plaza is due to plastic “grass”. But football is not played on this “astroturf”, instead science exploration is done here.
The “Gobi Stonehenge” is made with a central pillar where a viewer stands and 6 pillars that mark the positions of sunrise and sunset on the equinoxes and the solstices. There are also pillars to mark due north and south. When the sun passes over the south pillar it marks local solar noon.
The shape of an observatory like this one depends upon the latitude, and my caculations show that the excellent Chinese astronomer who designed this one did a superb job.
The local science guides took me around the site, I was the first american tourist to visit this spot. They were wonderful enthusiastic volunteers, well trained in astronomy. I learned later that they were impressed that their very first visitor could do the calculations to confirm the shape of this stonehenge in his head. Of course it helped that I had taught a lesson on this very topic and published it on my web site: Build your own ancient observatory.