History.com listed these interesting facts about Stonehenge:
February 28, 2017
History.com listed these interesting facts about Stonehenge:
December 15, 2015
At various times and in different (mostly Northern European) cultures, the solstice has gone by different names, such as Yule, Midwinter, and Jól. Nowadays, the solstice gets overshadowed by its more commercial and religious winter relatives: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa; but plenty of people still celebrate the winter solstice in its own right.
If you’ve ever wondered what the solstice is, or why it matters, here’s the lowdown.
What is it?
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. From June to December, the days shorten and shorten until the solstice. After the winter solstice, days gradually grow longer again (yay!), which brings warmer temperatures. On the actual solstice, the North Pole gets zero energy from the sun — that is, no sunlight at all.
In the summer, we celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. (In the Southern Hemisphere, everything is flip-flopped — they’re celebrating the summer solstice in December.)
When is it?
Each year, the winter solstice falls on either December 21 or 22. This year, it takes place Tuesday, December 22 at 4:48 UTC (December 21 at 11:48 p.m. EST).
But I noticed the sun started setting later before the solstice…
An astute observation! Depending on where you live, the shortest day of the year doesn’t necessarily fall on the day with the earliest sunset or the latest sunrise. This has to do with what’s called “true solar noon,” the time when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. In early December, solar noon is about ten minutes earlier than it is when we hit the solstice. Thus, depending on the latitude where you live, the sunset may actually be slightly later on the solstice than it was earlier in the month. The closer you live to the Arctic, the more closely the earliest sunset and the winter solstice will match up.
What about the latest sunrise?
Unless you live in the Arctic Circle, the latest sunrise usually arrives in early January, which makes sense, knowing that solar noon moves later in the day starting in early December. There’s a variation in solar noon and noon on the clock, because of the tilt of the earth’s axis and the earth’s not-quite-circular orbit around the sun.
How long have we known about the solstice?
Our earliest ancestors tracked the seasons and years by changes in the sky: the movement of the sun, stars, and moon. Stonehenge is one of the most famous monuments in the world built to observe and celebrate our trek around the sun. Nowadays, 3,000 to 5,000 people visit Stonehenge to watch the sunrise on the winter solstice and up to 30,000 visit for the summer solstice.
Article source: Refinery 29
Stonehenge Guided Tours
September 13, 2015
What we learned about Stonehenge this week is that it wasn’t built for summer celebrations.
In his book Stonehenge: Neolithic Man and the Cosmos, North showed by meticulous calculation how the alignment of Stonehenge was not, as was long supposed, to the Midsummer sunrise, but to its setting on the day of the Winter Solstice: in other words, to that very moment when the old year dies before nature begins its return to new life. For our Neolithic ancestors, it was thus a midwinter festival equivalent to our Christmas or the Roman Saturnalia.
We must now await further word from the academic discoverers of this new “Super-henge” on how they think its builders 4,500 years ago, like those of Stonehenge, directed it towards the position of the sun at just the moment when the year dies to be reborn. It was this which, when I first wrote about it on December 24 2006, inspired one of my sub-editors to the memorable headline “Have yourself a Megalithic Christmas”.
Stonehenge Guided Tours
May 10, 2014
Stonehenge Sunset and Sunrise Tour – 2014 Solstice Celebrations
The most famous prehistoric monument in the world, and now a world heritage site, Stonehenge stands alone in the vast empty tract of Salisbury plain. Its origins date back nearly 5,000 years and it has been home to pagan religion and spiritual worship, not to be mention public debate ever since. What was this vast collection of stones intended for? Was it observatory of the moon, a temple to the sun, or an elaborate cemetery? Who were the people who carried and carved these 40 ton rocks? Come and unlock the secrets for yourself and marvel at this remarkable and mysterious feat of ancient engineering and design, as we enjoy the wonderful celebrations that take place to mark the summer solstice.
The Sunset tour :
Join our Solstice Tour that departs London at lunchtime and heads west towards the site, taking time to enjoy the ancient stones at Avebury, before heading to picturesque Lacock for an early evening supper, included in the price. From here we journey to Stonehenge itself arriving at roughly 7pm, as it begins it’s annual celebration of the summer solstice. Huge crowds gather and there will be plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere of this historic event, walk amongst the stones, and observe the pagan rituals and ceremonies that take place at varying intervals throughout the evening. Please note there are two twenty to thirty minute walks involved during the day in order to see the celebrations at Avebruy and Stonehenge.
The Sunrise Tour:
Join our Premium Tour that departs London at 1am on the 21st June 2013 and heads directly to Stonehenge arriving at roughly 3am. The annual celebration of the summer solstice will be well under way by then as the atmosphere builds towards the sunrise, and the climax of the event. Huge crowds gather and there will be plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere of this historic morning, walk amongst the stones, and observe the pagan rituals and ceremonies that take place at varying intervals throughout the evening. Please note there is a twenty to thirty minute walk involved in order to get from the coach park to the event.
The solstice itself is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator, with the sun appearing to have reached its highest or lowest annual altitude in the sky above the horizon.
The word solstice is comes from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun, as seen from earth stands still in declination before reversing it’s direction. Thus after the summer solstice the sun does not appear as high in the sky and daylight reduces. The solstice is therefore seen as the midpoint of summer in many cultures and is cause for celebration.
Like other religious groups, Pagans are in awe of the strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life. For many pagans, they believe that the Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility. The summer solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest’s fruits. To celebrate many Pagans and non Pagans head to ancient religious sites including Avebury and Stonehenge, to conduct fascinating and colourful ceremonies throughout the night enjoying the last sunset and sunrise before the sun alters it’s direction once more.
Please note that as a responsible tour operator we have a duty of care towards the places we visit and in this case we ask you to be take great care when visiting the historic site. It is important that Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments are preserved for future generations and we ask you not to touch the stones, and not to leave any litter at the site.
Visitors are requested to dispose of their rubbish carefully at the designated recycling and rubbish points located in the Solstice Car Park and at Stonehenge. Clear recycling bags will also be handed out on arrival.. Please do not drop litter – bag and bin your rubbish so the recycling team can gather them up. It is a very sensitive landscape and still used by local farmers so please respect their crops and livestock.
There are authorised catering facilities on the site and some personal food and drink is allowed to be brought onto the site. Please bring them in a small bag – large rucksacks are not permitted. Glass is not permitted and will be confiscated – many people walk barefoot and the livestock graze in the area throughout the year. A small amount of alcohol is permitted on the site amounting to no more than one bottle of wine, or 4 500ml cans of beer or cider. Please note consumption of alcohol on the coach is not permitted. Due to the large numbers of people who attend the vent, naked flames are strictly forbidden. Small ground sheets and blankets are allowed.
Please note that there will be a lot of walking on grass involved and we recommend bringing warm clothing, sensible footwear and a small umbrella if rain is forecast.
*Due to the nature of this special event, we cannot guarantee exact arrival or departure times from Stonehenge so all timings are approximate.
Limited spaces so book early
Visit our website for full details: www.StonehengeTours.com
Stonehenge Guided Tour