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Ancient Observatories



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Ancient Observatories: Live from Chichén Itzá
March 20, 2005

  • History, Culture, and Astronomy Program (English)
  • Descent of the Serpent!
  • History, Culture, and Astronomy Program (Spanish)

Total program time is 2 hours.

Join us in our celebration of the spring equinox! Today the day and night are of equal length and the sun is at its sunrise midpoint along the horizon. Like many ancient cultures, the Maya in Southern Mexico kept the positions of the sun in mind while building their great buildings. A beautiful example is displayed at a site called Chich é n Itz á , in the state of Yucat á n, Mexico. Thousands of people will gather to witness the appearance of a shadow, in the form of a serpent, that will descend the main staircase of the great pyramid.

The Live@Exploratorium crew was there to capture the snake as it appeared and to speak with local archaeologists, archeoastronomers, and solar scientists about this amazing alignment, the Mayan cosmology behind it, and what the sun means to us today.

Click here for Webcast Program Outline

Featured Program Guests

Dr. Isabel Hawkins, Director, Center for Science Education, UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory

Arqlgo. Peter Schmidt, Chief Archaeologist, Chichén Itz á , Yucatán

Dr. Julieta Fierro Gossman, Director of Museums, Universum Science Center, Mexico City

Arqlgo. José Huchim Herrera, Chief Archaeologist, Uxmal and Dzabilchaltun, Yucatán

Dr. Xochitl Blanco Cano, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM

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