The Solstice Bench Has Straight Lines Only Twice a Year
Twitter user Julie Kiggins reveals this unique piece of furniture at the University of Wollongong in Australia. This bench has curved lines in the slats. But, Kiggins tells us, on the days of the summer and winter solstice, the angle of the sun is just right to turn their shadows into straight lines. Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, its winter solstice is June 21 and its summer solstice is December 22.#benches #furniture #solstice #Australia
How Stonehenge Captures the Solstices
The summer and winter solstices are barely noticeable for people living in the tropics, but they are important seasonal markers for those father north, and have been since humans started keeping track of the days of the year. For ancient farmers in Britain, which has a dearth of warm sunny days in the best years, the seasons were so important that around 2500 BC, they designed Stonehenge to align precisely with the summer and winter solstices.Standing in the centre of the monument on midsummer’s day, the longest day of the year, the sun rises just to the left of the outlying Heel Stone to the north-east and the first rays of the day shine into the heart of Stonehenge. Archaeological excavations have found a large stone hole to the left of the Heel Stone and it may have held a partner stone, the two stones framing the sunrise. The long shadow of the Heel Stone, the largest stone on the site, also extends right into the middle of the stone circle.The exact opposite happens in the winter, as the solstice sun sets on the exact opposite side of Stonehenge, in the slot formed by three stones- except one of the stones has fallen. We don't know much about the actual building of Stonehenge or what those ancient folk did at the site, but in recent years neo-Druids and people of other pagan religions gather there for the summer solstice sunrise, which is Tuesday. Read a rundown of how the solstice works at Stonehenge at the British museum blog. -via Strange Company (Image credit: Simon Wakefield) #Stonehenge #solstice
Why Isn't the Shortest Day of the Year Also the Coldest?
I had long wondered why the winter solstice was the beginning of winter instead of the middle of winter. Old poems and songs speak of the solstice as "the bleak midwinter," when it was clearly marked on the calendar as the beginning of winter. Were our calendars designed wrong? But eventually I realized that the seasons are categorized the way they are because of the real world weather and how it affects people. It's really cold after the solstice, all the way until the vernal equinox. But why does the world work that way?
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