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Ancients Could've Used Stonehenge to Predict ....
Post by Noah on Oct 31st, 2003, 8:52pm


Ancients Could Have Used Stonehenge to Predict Lunar Eclipses

Ancient people who built Stonehenge more than 3,500 years ago could have used the monumental arrangement of pillars to predict lunar eclipses, according to a professor of physics and astronomy at Clarion University in Pennsylvania.

Sharon Challener, who has been studying the megalith for more than 20 years, discovered a pattern in the puzzling horseshoe-shaped row of vertical columns at Stonehenge's center. Challener, like so many others, had been trying for years to figure out what was the purpose of Stonehenge. She had speculated about, and tested out, countless celestial cycles as they may have lined up with the mysterious stones. Then, almost by accident, she noticed that eclipses are visible from certain locations on Earth in distinct 47-month cycles.

That seemed to add up. There were 19 upright columns at the monument's center, which are collectively called the Bluestone Horseshoe. If the Stonehengers placed some stone marker on top of a pillar at one end of the horseshoe during a lunar eclipse and moved the rock to the adjacent pillar every full moon, they could predict successive eclipses.

Moving the rock this way every lunar month, the marker would stand at the center of the horseshoe after two-and-a-half trips around the row -- 47 months after the original eclipse. The full moon that rose that month would fall into Earth's shadow during the night. That stone could then be taken down and moved to the beginning of the horseshoe again.

While it might sound complicated, the method would actually be simple in practice, Challener said, and it would work.

"It makes use of the youngest, most central, most massive features of Stonehenge and it predicts all lunar eclipses occurring at Stonehenge without predicting a lot of eclipses that wouldn't be visible from the site," Challener said.

Besides, nobody had to come up with this system overnight. There is evidence that Stonehenge was begun about 3000 BC, with additions continuing for more than 1,500 years. During that time the people who built the mammoth structure may have been studying the moon. Over time they may have noticed the eclipse pattern, and developed an innovation to keep track of eclipses, she said.

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Re: Ancients Could've Used Stonehenge to Predict .
Post by Noah on Oct 31st, 2003, 8:54pm

After reading that article, it does sound like a plausible theory. My only question would be: what is the significance of the eclipse's to the ancient people's that it would be necessary to create a system such as this, using such immense rocks, and how did they figure out the combination of where to place them? (Ok, I guess that's technically 2 questions)