Under Ancient Skies

This is Kokino. It may not look like much anymore, but it’s one of the oldest observatories in the world. Located in Northeastern Macedonia, Kokino is a temple. Part of an ancient culture dating back at least 3800 years. The temple contains stone markers which were clearly used to track the positions of the Sun and Moon on the Eastern horizon. Astronomy really is among the oldest of the sciences.

Kokino is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site, and is on NASA’s list of ancient observatories.

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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2 Responses to Under Ancient Skies

  1. Prof. Bleen says:

    When I visited the Greenwich Observatory in 1999, there was in the basement a GPS reader saying 0º00’07” E longitude. Since it was almost directly under the Transit Circle telescope, I asked a guard why the GPS reader was so far off. He explained that (1) the actual reading had been taken some distance away, but that (2) the real prime meridian had drifted by a few yards on account of plate tectonics.

    This picture makes me wonder how far off these ancient observatories have drifted over the millennia: does this thing still accurately mark the solstices?

    • invaderxan says:

      Wow, Greenwich has really drifted that far since it was built?

      I don’t know with places like Kokino… And I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to accurately measure it. Though I suppose it’s questionable how accurate it was to begin with. Stonehenge, for instance, still works at solstice, though it’s expected to be at least a few hundred years older. My guess would be that it’s sufficiently less precise that it would still work despite tectonic drift. But that’s largely speculation on my part! :)

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