Apollo’s Path

Posted: April 6, 2011 in backyard, solar
Tags: ,

As I have been planning and planting the garden I realize that I don’t know the sun’s path intimately.  I know summer has longer days but that’s about it.  Native Americans throughout the America’s had structures that marked where and when the sun was on the two solstices and two equinoxes. 

In Phoenix, on top of South Mountain there is a petroglyph, art chipped into the rock, that marks the summer solstice.

Above:  The view of the sun rising on the Summer Solstice from the view of the Hohokam petroglyph.

Below: The petroglyph itself.  The semi-vertical line that bisects the petroglyph points to the spot on the horizon where the sun rises on the solstice.  From that angle it sun rises on the eastern edge of Four Peaks, a dominant mountain in the area. 

With all this in mind, in March I started marking where the sun sets.  My backyard faces West, so chalk on the back wall is easy to track.

marchToolsSunTrees 020

marchToolsSunTrees 021

At this point I am not exactly sure why it would be useful to know how to track the sun, but I figure if almost every civilization ever has tracked it, then I should as well. 

Some dates to mark:

The vernal equinox is the start of spring.  The day is 12 hours long. The Sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. (March 20, 2011)

  • T he summer solstice is the longest day of the year because the Sun reaches the most northern point in the sky at local noon.  The days will now start getting shorter. (June 21, 2011)
  • The autumnal equinox marks the start of fall. The day is 12 hours long. The Sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. (Sept. 23, 2011)
  • The winter solstice begins winter. It is the shortest day of the year, when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at local noon. The days start getting longer. (Dec. 22, 2011)
    • Yep, I am debating being at Chichen Itza for the Dec 21, 2012 date. I realize the sun does it’s great thing on the pyramid for the equnioxes. When I was teaching in Mexico City, I made it to Chichen Itza on two different occassions. I love that place.

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