Monday, December 15, 2008

Xochicalco Observatorio

The pyramid complex of Xochicalco is the only one in Mexico with an Observatorio. It is a man made cave that includes a shaft cut through the ceiling. Twice a year, on May 14 & 15 and on July 28 & 29 the sun is in the Zenith of it’s orbit and it’s rays flow through the shaft to project it’s own image brightly onto the floor of the cave. The purpose of this observatory was probably to correct the calendar and perhaps to observe the moon in order to predict eclipses.

The Observatorio was open to the public today so I climbed all three levels of the site to reach it. As I walked towards the entrance to the cave an attendant appeared. He welcomed me and lead me into the cave, lighting the way with a flashlight whose batteries had seen better days. The floor is quite uneven so I stayed close to my guide and his dim flashlight. We got to the observatory room and I could see the reflected sunlight coming down the shaft. The guide then turned off his light leaving us in the most complete blackness I can ever remember experiencing. I could look up the shaft to see the sky but other than that four inch window, it was pitch black.



Observatorio Entrance and My Guide


The Light Shaft

Solar Equinox

Solar Equinox! (not my photo)

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