Mar 20 2009
Today at sunset the houses on my street will signal the equinox as they do every spring and fall. If I’m at home I will pop out the back door to have a look. It’s quite impressive. They want to be Stonehenge.
Built in approximately 2500 BC, the monoliths at the real Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England are positioned so that the rays of the setting sun at the winter solstice perfectly align with the entrance alley. Archaeo-astronomers have even found alignments there for the equinox.
At home, I am impressed by a similar effect. The houses on my block face west and are closely spaced – about five feet apart – and they line up so that the rays of the sunset at equinox fall directly between the buildings without touching the side walls. At all other times of year sunset touches the buildings. In winter it lights my south wall; in summer it lights my north wall. At the equinox, the perfect alignment reminds me of Stonehenge.
I’m not sure the real estate developer intended this astronomical result when he laid out my street in 1905. It’s probably just a coincidence and there are probably many places where this sort of thing occurs, but no one notices.
Check around. Maybe there’s a Stonehenge in your neighborhood.
(photo of Stonehenge from Wikipedia, photo is in the public domain)