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Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments Astronomically Considered

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Ericka Bowman
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« on: January 11, 2009, 11:35:34 pm »



Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments Astronomically Considered
by Norman Lockyer
[1909]
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Ericka Bowman
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2009, 11:36:02 pm »

After centuries of speculation the origin, purpose, and construction of Stonehenge is still a mystery. Out of the hundreds of books on the subject, a few stand out. Lockyer's careful survey of the monument and other Northern European megaliths is one of these. Lockyer, who had spotless academic credentials, raised some of the themes which would dominate mainstream theories of Stonehenge during the 20th century, particularly his focus on archaeo-astronomy. Lockyer's primary hypothesis, that Stonehenge and other megalithic constructions were ancient observatories, is still considered plausible. He also noted the vast alignments of sites which covered the landscape, both in Britain and in northern France, anticipating Afred Watkins' discovery of ley lines by over a decade.

On the other hand, his conclusion that Stonehenge was constructed by immigrants from the Near East was, even then, controversial. The use of large stones to construct monuments was global in nature over a long period of history. Lockyer rolls out the well-known folklore evidence for Celtic tree, well, and stone worship, which had parallels in ancient Near Eastern paganism. However, the people who constructed Stonehenge were pre-Celtic, and their religious beliefs are still a matter for speculation. This isn't to say that his hypothesis is implausible, just that there is no concrete evidence to support it.

Production notes: this text was scanned from a print-on-demand edition of this book, due to the unavailability of an original. For this reason, due to speckling, the OCR stage introduced a great deal of spurious punctuation which had to be edited out, and some problems of this nature may still remain, even though due care was taken in proofing. In addition, the scanned illustrations are not of the highest quality. Hopefully this will be remedied at some point--J.B. Hare.

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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 11:37:02 pm »

STONEHENGE
AND OTHER
BRITISH STONE MONUMENTS
Astronomically Considered
BY
SIR NORMAN LOCKYER, K.C.B., F.R.S.
DIRECTOR OF THE SOLAR PHYSICS OBSERVATORY
HON. LLD., GLASGOW; HON. SC.D., CAMBRIDGE; CORRESPONDENT OF THE INSTITUTE
OF FRANCE; CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE IMPERIAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
OF ST. PETERSBURG; THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL INDUSTRY
OF FRANCE; THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE, GÖTTINGEN; THE FRANKLIN
INSTITUTE, PHILADELPHIA; THE ROYAL MEDICAL SOCIETY OF BRUSSELS;
SOCIETY OF ITALIAN SPECTROSCOPISTS; THE ROYAL ACADEMY OP PALERMO;
THE NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY OF GENEVA; OF THE ASTRONOMICAL
SOCIETY OF MEXICO; MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF LYNCEI,
ROME; AND THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, PHILADELPHIA;
HONORARY MEMBER OF THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCE OF
CATANIA; PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF YORK; LITERARY AND
PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF MANCHESTER; ROYAL CORNWALL
POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTION; AND LEHIGH UNIVERSITY
London
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
[1906]
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, January 2007. Proofed and formatted by John Bruno Hare. This text is in the public domain in the United States because it was published prior to January 1st, 1923. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact in all copies.
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 11:38:10 pm »

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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 11:39:02 pm »

p. v

PREFACE

IN continuation of my work on the astronomical uses of the Egyptian Temples, I have from time to time, when leisure has permitted, given attention to some of the stone circles and other stone monuments erected, as I believed, for similar uses in this country. One reason for doing so was that in consequence of the supineness of successive Governments, and the neglect and wanton destruction by individuals, the British monuments are rapidly disappearing.

Although, and indeed because, these inquiries are still incomplete, I now bring together some of the notes I have collected, as they may induce other inquirers to go on with the work. Some of the results already obtained have been communicated to the Royal Society, and others have appeared in articles published in Nature, but only a small percentage of the monuments available has so far been examined. Further observations are required in order that the hypothesis set forth in this book may be rejected or confirmed.

In the observations made at Stonehenge referred to in Chapter VII. I had the inestimable advantage of

p. vi

the collaboration of the late Mr. Penrose. Our work there would not have been possible without the sympathetic assistance of Sir Edmund Antrobus, Bart.; Colonel Duncan A. Johnston, R.E., Director-General of the Ordnance Survey, also was good enough on several occasions to furnish us with much valuable information which is referred to in its place. Messrs. Howard Payn and Fowler skilfully and zealously helped in the observations and computations. To all these I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing my obligations.

With regard to the other monuments besides Stonehenge, I have to tender my thanks to the following gentlemen for most valuable local assistance:—


Brittany—Lieut. de Vaisseau Devoir.

Stenness—Mr. Spence.

Stanton Drew—Professor Lloyd Morgan, Mr. Morrow, and Mr. Dymond.

The Hurlers, and the Merry Maidens—the Right Hon. Viscount Falmouth, Capt. Henderson, Mr. Horton Bolitho and Mr. Wallis.

Tregaseal—Mr. Horton Bolitho and Mr. Thomas.

The Dartmoor Avenues—Mr. Worth.


The following have helped me in many ways, among them with advice and criticism:—Principal Rhys, Dr. Wallis Budge, Dr. J. G. Frazer, and Mr. A. L. Lewis.

The assistance so generously afforded in the case of

p. vii

[paragraph continues] Stonehenge by Colonel Johnston, R.E., in furnishing me with accurate azimuths was continued for the monuments subsequently investigated till his retirement. To his successor, Colonel R. C. Hellard, R.E., I am already under deep obligations.

For the use of some of the Illustrations my thanks are due to the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Messrs. Macmillan, and Mr. John Murray.

I have to thank Mr. Rolston, F. R. A. S., one of my staff, for assistance in the computations involved.

NORMAN LOCKYER.

SOLAR PHYSICS OBSERVATORY,
     17th May, 1906.

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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 11:39:40 pm »

p. xi

CONTENTS

 
 PAGE
 
 
 PREFACE
 v
 
CHAPTER
 
 
 
I.
 INTRODUCTORY
 1
 
II.
 THE ASTRONOMICAL DIVISIONS OF THE YEAR
 12
 
III.
 THE AGRICULTURAL DIVISIONS OF THE YEAR
 17
 
IV.
 THE VARIOUS NEW-YEAR DAYS
 25
 
V.
 CONDITIONS AND TRADITIONS AT STONEHENGE
 34
 
VI.
 GENERAL ARCHITECTURE OF STONEHENGE
 55
 
VII.
 ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS AT STONEHENGE IN 1901
 62
 
VIII.
 ARCHEOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS AT STONEHENGE, 1901
 69
 
IX.
 WAS THERE AN EARLIER CIRCLE?
 88
 
X.
 THE MAY AND JUNE WORSHIPS IN BRITTANY
 96
 
XI.
 ASTRONOMICAL HINTS FOR ARCHĆOLOGISTS
 107
 
XII.
 ASTRONOMICAL HINTS FOR ARCHĆOLOGISTS (Continued)
 118
 
XIII.
 STENNESS (Lat. 59´ N.)
 123
 
XIV.
 THE HURLERS (Lat. 50° 31´ N.)
 133
 
XV.
 THE DARTMOOR AVENUES
 145
 
XVI.
 THE DARTMOOR AVENUES (Continued)
 157
 
XVII.
 STANTON DREW (Lat. 51° 10´ N.)
 166
 
XVIII.
 FOLKLORE AND TRADITION
 178
 
XIX.
 SACRED FIRES
 180
 
 
 p. x
 
 
 
 
 PAGE
 
XX.
 SACRED TREES
 200
 
XXI.
 HOLY WELLS AND STREAMS
 213
 
XXII.
 WHERE DID THE BRITISH WORSHIP ORIGINATE?
 232
 
XXIII.
 THE SIMILARITY OF THE SEMITIC AND BRITISH WORSHIPS
 252
 
XXIV.
 THE MAY YEAR IN SOUTH-WEST CORNWALL
 261
 
XXV.
 THE MERRY MAIDENS CIRCLE (Lat. 50° 4´ N.)
 265
 
XXVI.
 THE TREGASEAL CIRCLES
 277
 
XXVII.
 SOME OTHER CORNISH MONUMENTS
 287
 
XXVIII.
 THE CLOCK-STARS IN EGYPT AND BRITAIN
 294
 
XXIX.
 A SHORT HISTORY OF SUN-TEMPLES
 304
 
XXX.
 THE LIFE OF THE ASTRONOMER-PRIESTS
 316
 
 
 
APPENDICES.
 
 
I.
 DETAILS OF THE THEODOLITE OBSERVATIONS AT STONEHENGE
 325
 
II.
 SUGGESTIONS ON FIELD OBSERVATIONS
 329
 
 
 INDEX
 333

 



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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2009, 11:41:25 pm »

p. xi

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
FIG.
 
 PAGE
 
1.
 Present Sun Worship in Japan
 4
 
2.
 The Celestial Sphere, Conditions at the North Pole
 5
 
3.
 The Celestial Sphere, Conditions at the Equator
 6
 
4.
 The Celestial Sphere, Conditions in a Middle Latitude
 6
 
5.
 The Four Astronomical Divisions of the Year
 14
 
6.
 The Various Bearings of the Sun Risings and Settings in N. latitude 51°
 14
 
7.
 The Astronomical and Vegetation Divisions of the Year
 23
 
8.
 Original Tooling of the Stones at Stonehenge
 44
 
9.
 View of Stonehenge front the West
 45
 
10.
 Copy of Hoare's Plan of Stonehenge, 1810
 46
 
11.
 The Leaning Stone in 1901
 48
 
12.
 The Axis of the Temple of Karnak
 66
 
13.
 Plan of the Temple of Ramses II. in the Memnonia at Thebes
 67
 
14.
 One of the remaining Trilithons at Stonehenge
 59
 
15.
 General Plan of Stonehenge
 60
 
16.
 The Arrangements for raising the Stone
 70
 
17.
 The Cradle and Supports
 71
 
18.
 The Frame used to locate the Finds
 73
 
19.
 Some of the Flint Implements
 77
 
20.
 Showing the careful Tooling of the Sarsens
 82
 
21.
 Face of Rock against which a Stone was made to rest
 83
 
22.
 The Leaning Stone Upright
 85
 
23.
 Stonehenge, 1905
 86
 
24.
 Map of the Stones made by the Ordnance Survey
 89
 
25.
 Rod placed in the Common Axis of the Circle and Avenue
 94
 
26.
 Alignments at Le Ménec
 99
 
27.
 Menhir on Melon Island
 100
 
28.
 Melon Island, showing Menhir and Cromlech
 101
 
29.
 Menhirs of St. Dourzal
 102
 
 
 p. xii
 
 
FIG.
 
 PAGE
 
30.
 Alignment at Lagatjar (photograph)
 103
 
31.
 Alignments at Lagatjar (plan)
 104
 
32.
 Menhirs on Solstitial and May Alignments
 105
 
33.
 Diagram for finding Declination from given Amplitudes or Azimuths in British Latitudes
 113
 
34.
 Declinations of Northern Stars from 250 A.D. to 2150 B.C.
 115
 
35.
 Declinations of Southern Stars from 250 A.D. to 2150 B.C.
 116
 
36.
 The Conditions of Sunrise at the Summer Solstice in Lat. 59´ N
 119
 
37.
 The Azimuths of the Sunrise (upper limb) at the Summer Solstice. Late. N. 59°-47°
 121
 
38.
 Maeshowe and the Stones of Stenness
 124
 
39.
 Chief Sight-Lines from the Stones of Stenness
 126
 
40.
 Variation of the Obliquity of the Ecliptic 100 A.D.-4000 B.C.
 130
 
41.
 The Sight-Lines at the Hurlers
 136
 
42.
 The Southern Avenue at Merrivale, looking East
 147
 
43.
 Avenues, Circle and Stones at Merrivale, with their Azimuths
 154
 
44.
 Cursus at Stonehenge, nearly parallel to the Merrivale Avenue
 155
 
45.
 The remains of the Challacombe Avenue
 159
 
46.
 The Sight-Lines at Trowlesworthy
 162
 
47.
 The Circles and Avenues at Stanton Drew
 169
 
48.
 The Carro, Florence
 194
 
49.
 Cresset-Stone, Lewannick
 257
 
50.
 First Appearance of May Sun in British Latitudes
 263
 
51.
 Azimuths of the May Sunrise
 264
 
52.
 The Merry Maidens
 269
 
53.
 25-inch Ordnance Map of Merry Maidens showing Alignments
 275
 
54.
 The Eastern Circle at Tregaseal
 279
 
55.
 Photograph of Ordnance Map showing Sight-lines
 281
 
56.
 Plan of the Mên-an-Tol
 283
 
57.
 Photograph of the Mên-an-Tol
 284
 
58.
 The Mên-an-Tol. Front View and Section
 285
 
59.
 Photograph of the Ordnance Map of Boscawen-un
 288
 
60.
 Diagram showing Azimuths of Sunrise 1680 B.C. and 1905 A.D.
 290
 
61.
 Arcturus and Capella as Clock-Stars in Britain
 300
 
62.
 A Night-Dial
 303
 
63.
 Layard's Plan of the Palace of Sennacherib
 305
 
64.
 Layard's Plan of the Mound at Nimrood
 307
 
65.
 The Temples at Chichen Itza
 307
 

 



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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2009, 11:46:08 pm »

p. 1

STONEHENGE
CHAPTER I.
INTRODUCTORY

IN the book I published ten years ago, entitled "The Dawn of Astronomy," I gave a pretty full account of the principles and the methods of observation which enable us to trace the ideas which were in the minds of the ancient Egyptians when they set out the line of a temple they proposed to build.

Numerous references to the ceremonial of laying the foundation-stones of temples exist, and we learn from the works of Chabas, Brugsch, Dümichen 1 and others, that the foundation of an Egyptian temple was associated with a series of ceremonies which are repeatedly described with great minuteness. Amongst these ceremonies, one especially refers to the fixing of the temple-axis; it is called, technically, "the stretching of the cord," and is not only illustrated by inscriptions on the walls of the temples of Karnak, Denderah and Edfu—to mention the best-known cases—but is referred to elsewhere.


p. 2

During the ceremony the king proceeded to the site where the temple was to be built, accompanied mythically by the goddess Sesheta, who is styled "the mistress of the laying of the foundation-stone."

Each was armed with a stake. The two stakes were connected by a cord. Next the cord was aligned towards the sun on some day of the year, or a star, as the case might be; when the alignment was perfect the two stakes were driven into the ground by means of a wooden mallet. One boundary wall parallel to the main axis of the temple was built along the line marked out. by this stretched cord.

If the moment of the rising or setting of the sun or star were chosen, as we have every reason to believe was the case, seeing that all the early observations were made on the horizon, it is obvious that the light from the body towards which the temple was thus aligned would penetrate the axis of the temple from one end to the other in the original direction of the cord.

We learn from Chabas that the Egyptian word which expresses. the idea of founding or laying the foundation-stone of a temple is Senti—a word which still exists in Coptic. But in the old language another word Pet-ser, which no longer remains in Coptic, has been traced. It has been established that pet means to stretch, and ser means cord, so that that part of the ceremonial which consisted in stretching a cord in the direction of a star was considered of so great an importance that it gave its name to the whole ceremonial.

Dealing with the existing remains of Egyptian temples, it may be said that the most majestic among them was that of Amen-Rā at Karnak, dedicated to the Sun-God,

p. 3

and oriented, to catch the light, of the sun setting at the summer solstice, the time of the year at which the all-important rise of the Nile began.

Although the sun is no longer worshipped in Egypt or Britain, sun-worship has not yet disappeared from the world. Professor Gowland has recently 1 brought to notice a surviving form of sun-worship in Japan. I quote his statement:—

"There on the seashore at Fûta-mi-ga-ura (as will be seen in a copy of a print which I obtained at that ancient place) the orientation of the shrine of adoration is given by two gigantic rocks which rise from the sea as natural pillars. The sun as it rises over the mountains of the distant shore is observed between them, and the customary prayers and offerings made in that direction (Fig. 1).

"It is, too, specially worthy of note that the point from which the sun is revered is marked by a structure of the form of a trilithon, but made of wood, placed immediately behind the altar. This representative of the trilithon is of very remote date in Japan, and has been in use there from the earliest times in connection with the observances of the ancient Shintō cult in which the Sun-Goddess is the chief deity. One of its important uses, which still survives, was to indicate the direction of the position of some sacred place or object of veneration, in order that worshippers might make their prayers and oblations towards the proper quarter."

The table of offerings must also be noted.

In the book to which I have referred, I also endeavoured to show that a knowledge of even elementary


p. 4

astronomy may be of very great assistance to students of archæology, history, folk-lore and all that learning which deals with man's first attempts to grasp the

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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2009, 11:46:53 pm »



FIG. 1.—Present sun worship in Japan.
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2009, 11:47:09 pm »

meaning and phenomena of the universe in which he found himself before any scientific methods were available to him; before he had any idea of the origins or the conditionings of the things around him.

p. 5

It may be well, however, in the present book to restate the underlying astronomical principles in the briefest possible manner; and this is the more easily done because, in the absence of measuring instruments, the horizon was the only circle which the ancient peoples could employ effectively, and we need only therefore consider it.

Indeed, whether we regard the Rig-Veda or the Egyptian monuments from an astronomical point of view, we are struck by the fact that the early worship

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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2009, 11:47:44 pm »



FIG. 2.—The celestial sphere, conditions at the North Pole. A parallel sphere. N.P., North celestial Pole; N., position of observer.

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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2009, 11:48:07 pm »

and all the early observations related to the horizon. This was true not only for the sun, but for all the stars which studded the general expanse of sky.

We have therefore chiefly to consider the relation of the horizon of any place to the apparent movements of celestial bodies at that place.

We now know that the earth rotates on its axis, but this idea was of course quite unknown to these early peoples. Since the earth rotates, with stars infinitely removed surrounding it on all sides, the apparent movements of the stars will depend very much upon

p. 6

the position we happen to occupy on the earth. An observer at the North Pole of the earth, for instance,

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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2009, 11:48:35 pm »



FIG. 3.—The celestial sphere, conditions at the Equator. A right sphere, Q, standpoint of observer; PP, the celestial poles; EW, east and west points.



would see the stars moving round in circles parallel to the horizon (Fig. 2). No star could therefore either rise

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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2009, 11:49:02 pm »



FIG. 4.—The celestial sphere, conditions in a middle latitude. An oblique sphere. In this woodcut DD´ shows the apparent path of a circumpolar star; BB´B″, the path and rising and setting points of an equatorial star; CC´C″ and AA´A″, those of stars of mid declination, one north and the other south; O, standpoint of observer.
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2009, 11:49:29 pm »

or set—one half of the heavens would be always visible above his horizon, and the other half invisible. An observer at the South Pole would of course see that

p. 7

half of the stars invisible to the observer at the northern one.

If the observer be on the equator, the movements of the stars will appear to be as indicated in this diagram (Fig. 3)—that is, all the stars will rise and set, and each star will be, in turn, twelve hours above the horizon, and the same time below it. But if we consider the position of an observer in a middle latitude, say at Stonehenge, we find that some stars will always be above the horizon, some always below—that is, they will neither rise nor set. All other stars will both rise and set, but some of them will be above the horizon for a long time and below for a short time, whereas others will be a very short time above the horizon and a long time below it, each star completing a circle in a day (Fig. 4).

Wherever we are upon the earth we always imagine that we are on the top of it. The idea held by all the early peoples was that the surface of the earth near them was an extended plain: they imagined that the land that they knew and just the surrounding lairds were really in the centre of the extended plain. Plato, for instance, was content to think the Mediterranean and Greece upon the top of a cube, and Anaximander placed the same region at the top of a cylinder.

By the use of a terrestrial globe we can best study the conditions of observation at the poles of the earth, the equator and some place in middle latitude. The wooden horizon of the globe is parallel to the horizon of a place at the top of the globe, which horizon we can represent by a wafer. By inclining the axis of the globe and watching the movement of the wafer as the

p. 8

globe is turned round, we can get a very concrete idea of the different relations of the observer's horizon to the apparent paths of the stars in different latitudes.

We have next to deal with the astronomical relations of the horizon of any place, in connection with the observation of the sun and stars at the times of rising or setting, when of course they are on or near the horizon; and in order to bring this matter nearer to the ancient monuments, we will study this question for both Thebes and Stonehenge. We .may take the latitude of Thebes as 25°, Stonehenge as 51°, and we will begin with Thebes.

To consider an observer on the Nile at Thebes and to adjust things properly we must rectify a celestial globe to the latitude of 25° N., or, in other words, incline the axis of the globe at that angle to the wooden horizon.

Since all the stars which pass between the North Pole and the horizon cannot set, all their Apparent movements will take place above the horizon. All the stars between the horizon and the South Pole will never rise. Hence, stars within the distance of 25° from the North Pole will never set at Thebes, and those stars within 25° of the South Pole will never be visible there. At any place the latitude and the elevation of the pole are the same. It so happens that many of those places with which archeologists have to do in studying the history of early peoples—Chaldæa, Egypt, Babylonia, &c.—are in low middle latitudes, therefore we have to deal with bodies in the skies which do set and bodies which do not, and the elevation of the pole is neither very great nor very small. But

p. 9

although in each different latitude the inclination of the equator to the horizon as well as the elevation of the pole will vary, there will be a strict relationship between the inclination of the equator at each place and the elevation of the pole. Except at the poles themselves the equator will cut the horizon due east. and due west; therefore every celestial body to the north of the celestial equator which rises and sets will cut the horizon between the east and west point and the north point; those bodies which do not rise will of course not cut the horizon at all.

The stars near the equator, and the sun, in such a latitude as that of Thebes, will appear to rise or set at no very considerable angle from the vertical; but when we deal with stars very near to the north or south points of the horizon they will seem to skim along the horizon instead of rising directly.

 

We now pass on to Stonehenge. To represent the new condition the axis of the globe will now require to be inclined 51° to the horizon. The number of northern stars which do not set and of southern stars which do not rise will be much greater than at Thebes. The most northern and southern stars visible will in their movement hug the horizon more closely than was observed under the Thebes condition.

The sun, both at Thebes and Stonehenge, since it moves among the stars from 23½° N. to 23½° S. each year, will change its place of rising and setting at different times of the year.

Now it will at once be obvious that there must be a strict law connecting the position of a star with its

p. 10

place of rising or setting. Stars at the same distance from the celestial pole or equator will rise or set at the same point of the horizon, and if a star does not change its place in the heavens it will always rise or set in the same place.

The sun as it changes its position each day, in its swing N. and S. of the equator, will rise and set on any day in the same place as a star which permanently has the same distance from the equator as that temporarily occupied by the sun.

Here it will be convenient to introduce one or two technical terms we generally define a star's place by giving, as one ordinate, its distance in degrees from the equator: this distance is called its declination.

Further, we generally define points on the horizon by dividing its whole circumference into 360°, so that we can have azimuths up to 90° from the north and south points to the east and west points. We also have amplitudes from the east and west points towards the north and south points. We can say, then, that a star of a certain declination, or the sun when it occupies that declination, will rise or set at such an azimuth, or at such an amplitude. This will apply to both north and south declinations.

Then supposing the azimuth to be. 39° in the N.E. quadrant, it is written N. 39° E. For the other quadrants we have N. 39° W., S. 39° E., and S. 39° W., respectively.

The following table gives the amplitudes of rising or setting (north or south) of celestial bodies having declinations from 0° to 64°, at Thebes and Stonehenge respectively.

p. 11

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