Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Solstice


I was going to do this post tomorrow for the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, but by the time I would have it up, it would be too late to view the solstice on the web cam...read on.
For only the second year this can be viewed through an official web cam from inside the chamber at Newgrange showing between 8.30 am and 9.30 am GMT. You can see the recorded web cam at any time on the site, if you miss the actual sunrise tomorrow.
Newgrange is an ancient site in the Boyne valley in Co Meath and is one of the country's landmarks.It was built more than 500 years before the great pyramids of Egypt and 1000 years before Stonehenge in England.
Shortly before 9.00am as the sun penetrates the roof box ( an opening above the entrance) of what was originally thought of as a tomb,but now known as a much more important site .A narrow beam of light will travel through and illuminate the chamber. Crowds will gather in the cold before dawn to wait for the end of the longest night of the year as people did 5000 thousand years ago.The chamber itself is very narrow and only those lucky enough to win a lottery will watch the annual phenomenon from the inside of the chamber.Of course in Ireland the amount of sunshine we get at this time of year is minimal and often the solstice is not as spectacular as it could be!
Log on to the official site at NewgrangeThere is lots of information about the site and follow the links for the winter solstice for the web cam.
In Ireland we have a lot of megalithic tombs and sites scattered around the countryside.Here in Co Cork there is an important and almost complete stone circle at Drombeg in Glandore, an incredible feat of engineering almost 3000 years ago.To the west of the circle there is a V shaped hollow between two hills, at sunset on the shortest day of the year, the sun sets in this hollow which is in alignment with the entrance stones of the circle.
Even though the shortest day seems to occur in mid winter it gives hope for the coming of Spring as the days will begin to lengthen from now on.In Ireland we have a saying that by the 6Th of January we will notice the day getting longer by a 'cock's step'.Even without calenders or timepieces our ancestors knew the changing seasons and when to plan and plant.This was looked on as a pagan festival but it just underlines the fact there is a God looking after us, because even with modern engineering these structures are looked on as truly amazing even by to days standards.

3 comments:

Darla said...

Very interesting I will have my girls read this post. They are all gifted and one has tested genuis, we try not to remind her of that though, makes it tough to parent! haha She is very talented in and loves science, thanks.

Scarecrow said...

Hi Peggy
A very interesting post!
We are celebrating our Summer Solstice down under...but it isn't as hot here as in other years.
But I'm not complaining about that!

Lindab said...

I didn't know about Newgrange - what an interesting discovery.