NATURAL ASTRONOMY- Rock Clock

Natural Astronomy – Rock Clock

Music, Ambience: dawn chorus, amherst

JM: Since humans first appeared on earth, we’ve been aware of the annual pattern in the movement of the sun across sky, and the other rhythms and cycles which govern our world and our lives. Over the millennia, we’ve created stone circles and other edifices which, in effect, track the passage of those rhythms. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

JY: “The purpose of these stones is to mark the direction of the location of the rising and setting of the sun throughout the year. This is where calendars come from!”

JM: Judy Young is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She and her students created a sort of mini – Stonehenge — a circle of rocks which has enabled them to track the movements of the sun and stars.

JY: “It’s been suggested that the way you actually find the day of the solstice and therefore know where the sun rises on that day requires several years in advance of observation. First you’d have to notice that there was a cycle at all to mark. The sun has a cycle of its movement. It goes from south to north, to south to north in where it appears to rise. Every year. Then you would have to have watched it and notice about how far north the sun was in the summer and you would want to notice a position that the sun rose maybe three weeks before the solstice.”

JM: If you mark the place on a stone circle at which the sun appears on the horizon each morning, you’ll notice that around this time of year, it lingers at its most southerly point- For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it’s the time of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

NATURAL ASTRONOMY- Rock Clock

One astronomer uses a home-made version on Stonehenge to keep track of the passing seasons.
Air Date:12/22/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

Natural Astronomy - Rock Clock

Music, Ambience: dawn chorus, amherst

JM: Since humans first appeared on earth, we've been aware of the annual pattern in the movement of the sun across sky, and the other rhythms and cycles which govern our world and our lives. Over the millennia, we've created stone circles and other edifices which, in effect, track the passage of those rhythms. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

JY: "The purpose of these stones is to mark the direction of the location of the rising and setting of the sun throughout the year. This is where calendars come from!"

JM: Judy Young is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She and her students created a sort of mini - Stonehenge -- a circle of rocks which has enabled them to track the movements of the sun and stars.

JY: "It's been suggested that the way you actually find the day of the solstice and therefore know where the sun rises on that day requires several years in advance of observation. First you'd have to notice that there was a cycle at all to mark. The sun has a cycle of its movement. It goes from south to north, to south to north in where it appears to rise. Every year. Then you would have to have watched it and notice about how far north the sun was in the summer and you would want to notice a position that the sun rose maybe three weeks before the solstice."

JM: If you mark the place on a stone circle at which the sun appears on the horizon each morning, you'll notice that around this time of year, it lingers at its most southerly point- For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it's the time of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.