Ancient observatories: they knew a lot

The night sky has always attracted people’s eyes. Since ancient times, hundreds of scientists have invented new ways to observe the stars and planets. It seems that even if we know very little about space with current technologies, the people of the past did not have a chance to learn anything about the space around our planet. However, as studies show, since 2600 BC mankind has explored the secrets of the universe with incredible precision.

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You’ve probably heard the name “Stonehenge” at least once. It is a large stone building located near the city of Salisbury. It is surrounded by two shafts with a diameter of just over 100 meters, between which is a moat. Stonehenge itself looks like a circle of detached and multi-ton stones arranged in arches. In the northern part of the building there is an entrance, and in front of it, 30 meters away, there is a six-meter stone weighing 35 tons, which is now commonly called Heel. It must be said that the ancient structure initially seemed simpler, and large rocks and arches, according to scientists, appeared here after 1000 years. In our time, the building looks like a central stone, surrounded by 30 blocks of sandstone, arranged in arches of different widths and heights, as well as 64 blue stones. The appearance of Stonehenge is breathtaking: standing in the middle of huge monoliths, it can seem as if they were left here by some ancient mighty giants from myths.


Scientists have long wondered how and for what purpose people who lived 4,500 years ago could build this stone structure. Not so long ago, scientists finally found the answer to one of these mysteries. Stonehenge is an ancient observatory. In the course of research, it turned out that if you stand inside the circle, then the Hackstone will indicate with incredible accuracy the place of sunrise on the day of the summer solstice. If you stand with your back to it, then in the opposite arch, made of blocks of sand, you will see the point where the sun sets during the winter solstice. Each of the parts of the structure is not installed by chance: it indicates the positions of the Sun and Moon on certain days of the calendar. It is not known how people of antiquity managed to calculate the trajectories of the movement of heavenly bodies. However, thanks to Stonehenge, they could accurately determine the day based on the position of the Sun or predict the phase of the moon.


Another impressive observatory of the past, El Caracol, is located on the territory of modern Mexico. It was built about 1000 years ago by the Toltec and Mayan tribes. Only they did not observe the Sun and the Moon in it, but Venus. This is due to the fact that this planet was revered by the tribes and considered sacred. It is remarkable that astronomers of antiquity, without modern technology and knowledge of space, managed to accurately determine the trajectory of Venus and calculate its period – 584 days. At the same time, they were able to correlate its cycle with the Earth’s and establish that for eight revolutions of the Earth around the Sun, the sacred planet manages to complete only four. Even records of research by astronomers of that time have been preserved, describing many astronomical events of antiquity. The windows of the observatory’s observation tower overlook all the important points of sunrise for the calendar: the days of the solstices and equinoxes.

El Caracol

Ancient buildings seem to man a real miracle to this day. Huge structures attract millions of tourists, and excavations in them last for years. It is impossible not to be surprised at how, with the help of the simplest materials, people managed to conduct research that was confirmed only after hundreds and even thousands of years.

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