Mar 20 2009

Stonehenge at Home

Published by at 7:24 am under Musings & News

Stonehenge (photo in the public domain from Wikipedia)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.  Our houses are like 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)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Stonehenge at Home”

  1. Bill Parkeron 20 Mar 2009 at 10:45 am

    Several years ago I was going to a meeting in Orlando, FL. There the streets are straight (unlike Pittsburgh) and run due North-South and East-West. Our airplane landed in the evening and we were driving to the hotel at sunset. The sun was directly in the eyes of the driver and aligned straight down the road. It was March 21 – equinox time! I thought, “Ah ha, a modern-day solar calendar.”

  2. Kristenon 20 Mar 2009 at 1:33 pm

    My front room windows signal the passing of the sun across the sky as the seasons change. In winter the sunset is aligned with the left window, in summer it’s in the right one. It’s fun to point out to friends.

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