We have just had a holiday weekend here in New Zealand and instead of going away with the crowds, we decided to leave on Monday when most people were returning home and so have a peaceful time away from the city.
On one day we took ourselves off to Stonehenge Aotearoa. Even though it shares its name this is not a copy of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK as the kindly lady on duty hastened to tell us. Instead it is designed specifically for its location and as a centre for science education. We are told that it is “a fully working star compass specifically designed for its geographic location”.
It was a very overcast, windy day up on the plain and my amateur photos cannot do justice to the place.This structure is a gigantic clock and calendar. In addition to demonstrating the changing altitude of the midday sun over the year, it also identifies the current date, the times of the solstices and equinoxes and the precise time of local noon. It also reveals things that we cannot see – the ever-changing length of a day (due to the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit) and, where the sun would be seen if you could view it from space – the constellation it would appear to be moving through. It also identifies the time of solar conjunctions with bright stars.
Source – Stonehenge Aotearoa website.
The Analemma records the movement of the sun and also demonstrates the signs of the Zodiac. Unfortunately my I-pod camera could not record the whole length of the Analemma which has all twelve star signs along its length.We are told that many people who read their horoscopes in the popular media are following their wrong star sign. At an earlier visit I was told that rather than being a Pisces I was in fact an Aries.
At the centre of the henge is a bronze compass rose marked with the cardinal points.
This was a particularly fascinating place to visit. It’s located off the beaten track but well worth the effort of going there.The first time I went we joined a guided tour of the property and this is what I would suggest to anyone considering a visit.