Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer solstice

Max Alexander, Astronomy Picture of the Day
Actually, today it is the summer solstice only in the Northern Hemisphere; in the Southern Hemisphere it is the winter solstice. The above picture is from one of my favorite sites, Astronomy Picture of the Day (which I visit daily to remind me to widen my horizons). Taken at Stonehenge at the summer solstice in 2008, the picture shows the 4,500-year-old stones, with some amazing fog, trees, and sunrise to add to the mysterious setting.

Stonehenge, located in England, is often shown in pictures during the solstice, because although the reason for the construction of this prehistoric monument is lost in the mists of time (it is, after all, at least 4,500 years old and maybe older), it is an amazing place, filled with magic and mystery. From Wikipedia:
The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge has long been studied for its possible connections with ancient astronomy. Archaeoastronomers have claimed that Stonehenge represents an "ancient observatory," although the extent of its use for that purpose is in dispute. Many also believe that the site may have had astrological or spiritual significance attached to it as well.
Whatever the origins and meaning of Stonehenge, the site has drawn so many people that it is now almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like long ago. It has become another of those ancient sites that has been altered by the unending approach of hordes of visitors. More from Wikipedia:
Although Stonehenge has become an increasingly popular destination during the summer solstice, with 20,000 people visiting in 2005, scholars have developed growing evidence that indicates prehistoric people visited the site only during the winter solstice. The only megalithic monuments in the British Isles to contain a clear, compelling solar alignment are Newgrange and Maeshowe, which both famously face the winter solstice sunrise.
Never mind. I guess I won't visit it, but I'll continue to imagine and dream when I look at pictures like these. After today, each night of the year will be a little longer and each day a little shorter, until we reach the equinox in September. The brilliant poet Emily Dickinson wrote this in 1883, and it says everything to me about Stonehenge:
Sweet hours have perished here;
This is a mighty room;
Within its precincts hopes have played, --
Now shadows in the tomb.
Happy solstice, wherever you are on our blue globe. Namaste!


  1. A striking, haunting photo of Stonehenge...just amazing!! thanks for sharing it with us. Oh, and happy summer!!

  2. It certainly was the winter solstice here yesterday. We had a beautiful start to the day in Wellington then were blasted with a southerly! *yeouch*

  3. Have a wonderful summer DJan, only wish it were longer but am thankful for the sunny days we have been having.
    Really enjoyed reading this post....:-) Hugs

  4. Stonehenge... high on my list of places to visit! One of these days when I make it up to London to visit my sister perhaps I'll rent a car and head down... although it is 3h away! Not really a day trip... :p

    and funny you should mention it, but my other sister is celebrating the winter solstice in New Zealand! Or rather complaining about it and saying the best way to survive it is in a hot tub! The kiwis are really fond of hot tubs! ;o)

    Here in Alicante as you know we're in the middle of our Summer Solstice festivities! :o)

    Happy Summer! :o)

  5. What a beautiful picture of Stonehenge. I haven't seen it before and I thank you for showing it to us. I have been to Stonehenge and it is as beautiful as you can imagine. However, I don't believe that after spending all that time building it, people would only visit it once a year. That seems a bit unlikely. I think it is more likely that it was used often, don't you?
    Blessings, Star

  6. Happy Solstice!

    Stonehenge is high on my list of places to visit especially since my ancestors are from the British Isles.

  7. Six months from today we will be ushering in winter. The events are equally spaced apart, but yet it seems that winter last longer. Summer seems to go by in the blink of an eye. I wonder why that is?

  8. There is forever some kind of change in life, more hours, less sun, seasons. For a couple weeks it felt like our state had bypassed any spring and spun right into summer. Then the past week we have had thunder and lightening and wind and cool weather and plenty of rain. I like it and I really do appreciate the changes.

  9. happy solstice!
    the stones are beuatiful and magical and ancient. its a tourist mecca, but i have driven down the A303 past the henge in twilight and it is a breath-taking sight.
    no wonder the pagans loved it so.

  10. D-Jan,Namaste! this is how they greet one another in north India.What a nice pic!Why don't you go visit stonehedge,and when are you coming to India? The world is an amazing place with so much wonder and beauty,isn't it?

  11. I appreciate the 'Astronomy Picture of the Day' site too DJann!\


  12. My son was born on this day 30 years ago! Great post! Thank you!

  13. Beautiful. The book series by Diana Gabaldon deals with time travel and proposed an interesting theory. What if the stones of places like stonehenge were used as markers for places where (at times) the fabric of time thinned and a person was able to slip through? I have no idea what the purpose of the stones actually is, but hers is an interesting theory!


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