Blog #1: Stonehenge and Solstices

moonrise stars Stonehenge Wiltshire England UK
Stonehenge Photograph

Stonehenge is commonly known as a collection of large stones in Wiltshire, England, but even after much research and investigation, we still don’t know who built it, when it was built, or exactly what it was used for. We speculate that it could have been used as a burial ground or even an astronomical observatory. What is particularly interesting about this sight is its alignment with the summer and winter solstices. As seen in this Stonehenge reconstruction, as the sun sets rises on the summer solstice and sets on the winter solstice, the sun is perfectly aligned with opposite sides of the monument. It is commonly believed that the monument was built between 3000 and 2000BCE, which leads us to wonder how important astronomical observations were to ancient societies. Another interesting potential use for Stonehenge is to predict eclipses. Some questions that may spur from these potential uses are: Why did the creators of Stonehenge align it with the path of the sun? Why would they want to predict the timing of eclipses?

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4 thoughts on “Blog #1: Stonehenge and Solstices

  1. It’s interesting to see how complicated this structure was even back then! I’m surprised that people so long ago were able to figure out the time and dates for hte equinoxes and find a practical way to locate them every year. It has me wondering what the purpose of this structure was – religious, scientific, or a combination of both.

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  2. This post made me think about ancient people and how technology in their time was incredibly sophisticated for the resources that they had at the time. It amazes me that to this day, we still don’t know much about Stonehenge and your post had me thinking why. Do you think that we will ever discover who built it and if there is another purpose other than measuring the solstices?

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  3. Going off that, it always so interesting to see what previous civilizations developed to observe the night sky. It’s interesting to think of what future civilizations will find from us and what they will assume or wonder or mistake about our scientific explorations.

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  4. Your post was really interesting to read, especially having just completed my second blog! I actually mentioned Stonehenge in my blog post and the status it may have held as a “celestial observatory.” I find it especially fascinating that despite Stonehenge’s “old age,” scientists are now finding structures that may have been used as celestial observatories that are even older than Stonehenge. For instance, my blog post focused on tomb structures (called dolmens) found last year in Carregal do Sal, Portugal that were built six thousand years ago, perhaps for telescopic purposes (specifically stargazing). 

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