Ancient astronomy research project

Westphalian public observatory and planetarium Recklinghausen

by Burkard Steinrücken

In Westphalia (Germany) is a fascinating site for the observation of the moon near the minor standstill limit. Not a single lunar line, but an arrangement to observe an alignment with the moon over several hours. A 300 m long processional road of two parallel ditches follows the declination line of -18.5° .. -19.0° in the landscape. The foresight ("gnomon") for this observation is a large rock with a shape like the profile of a human face.
The face

Walking slowly along the processional road with a part of the moon at the position of the eye (apparent declination -18.5°), you can "fix" the moon as the eye of the rocky giant for about 3 hours. A little platform on the edge of the rock below the face has app. declination of -19°. This (approx. monthly) event leads to a very nice enlightenment of the giant in the night.
The rock is surrounded by a halo of the bright moonlit atmosphere and the eye is shining like a spotlight.
Moon eye

The processional road (one ditch is about 600 m long, the other makes a bend after 300 m and vanishes where the observation of the shining eye isn't possible anymore) will come under archaeological investigation in the near future.
Procession way

The approximate date of the ancient embankments around the foresight rock is 500 BCE.

For more information contact Burkard Steinrücken, and see his efforts in archaeoastronomy.

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Major content related changes: Nov. 6th, 2004