Archaeoastronomy

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Imagine that you’re living sometime around 2000 BCE, give or take a thousand years or so. That’s about 4000 years before our time.

You look up at the sky at night, and see it filled with numerous points of light. Some of them stay mostly fixed, but move mysteriously in circles around the north pole. Others move with the rest, but wander a bit from time to time.

And then there’s the sun, whose brilliant rays light the day. The moon, like the sun, doesn’t seem to follow the path of the lights in the sky. It even changes its shape, and sometimes disappears entirely.

Wouldn’t you wonder if there was some pattern to these otherworldly motions? Wouldn’t you devote time to studying them and seeing if you could predict them? Continue reading

Sunrise in Flagstaff

It’s 5:00 am and I’m up ungodly early to photograph the sunrise for a school assignment. So I figured I’d blog about it. Because, why not?

4:50: Okay, I’m up. Why do I have to be up so freaking early again?

5:00: Dressed. I can see the sunrise from a spot about twenty minutes away. Do I really have to get moving now?

(Unfortunately, yes. Because my brain is absolutely useless for anything but the prearranged plan. Working on homework sounds atrocious.)

5:19: Almost to my lookout point. Thank goodness there is little to no traffic. I really don’t feel like being run over because I didn’t have the brain space to remember the rules of the road…

5:21: At the parking garage. I’ll have a view of the horizon from the roof. But why does a multistory building need all these stairs…?

5:24: Up six flights of stairs, and I’m on the roof. Sunrise isn’t till 6:02. But my god, the horizon is beautiful…

For me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime sight, like a solar eclipse. I will never be up this early again if I can help it, so I’m going to appreciate the view while I’m here.

Well. Sunrise isn’t for another half-hour. I’ll check back in when the sun peeks over the horizon… Continue reading

The Reason for the Seasons

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As a born Californian, I never saw seasons this dramatically until I went to college in Flagstaff, Arizona.

I remember, in my first year here, when I was taking a walk around campus with a few friends. We passed over a riverbed where water was gently trickling along. Green grass and brush lined the banks. The sight absolutely captivated me. I had never seen anything like it, even in the springtime.

Then winter hit in all its blizzarding glory. At night, the temperature dropped below freezing. Snow fell in flurries that contrasted beautifully with the night. By morning, snow banks over a foot high lined the footpaths. To say nothing of the state of my winter jacket!

Summer in Flagstaff is hot. And I mean hot. It’s sweltering. Everyone crowds under the nearest tree. I experienced two days of it during orientation, and I never want to be here in the summer again.

Flagstaff’s autumn isn’t quite like the red and golden season depicted above. It pours. The rain sweeps down from the skies in torrents, soaking you through to the bone within minutes of being outside. Don’t think you’re safe under an umbrella. Better get some waterproof slacks to cover up those jeans, or you’ll be freezing in your classes all day.

I remember learning that my good blogging friend, the Momma, experiences the opposite seasons. When it’s pouring over here, it’s all green and sunny in Australia. When it snows here, she’s getting summer—I only hope it’s not as sweltering as it is in Flagstaff!

But why? Why should Australia have seasons that are opposite those in America? Continue reading