Little Galver and the Midpoint Sun

I first visited Little Galver’s viewing station on an excellent Pathways to the Past (CASPN) walk lead by David Giddings. I was amazed by this wonderful hidden spot on the West Penwith moors. A triangular collection of stones frames the impressive Carn Galver. While there I took a quick compass reading which said approx. 270 degrees and since then I had wondered how the framed Carn Galver would interplay with the equinox setting sun. I finally had an opportunity to go check this out on Saturday night (Equinox+1) and took some images during the event. The sun did not just set quickly but surprisingly it rolled down the spine of the hillside, creating a spectacle which lasted nearly ten minutes. Towards the end, it dipped in and out of the nooks and crannies which made up the uneven spine. What a solar extravaganza, such a sight to behold and who knows who had seen it last, maybe no one since prehistory.

Dark skies and astro tourism

A lovely writeup from Sophie Lam in the Inews about finding dark sky spaces. Obviously, I’m biased but Cornwall has some wonderful stargazing spaces. Including Bodmin Moor which is a IDA Dark Sky Park and West Cornwall which is currently applying to be a Dark Sky Reserve.

Here is a link to the article which includes a quote from me about the wonders of the Cornish night sky.

How to book a stargazing trip in the UK and further afield _ inews

 

Measuring the Universe with The Tate St Ives at Porthmeor Beach.

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We have been having lots of fun down at the beach in St Ives. As part of Mayes Creative Measuring the Universe Heritage Lottery funded project we have been celebrating the 250 year anniversary of the Transit of Venus. During the Tate St Ives Winter Festival we braved the elements to head on to the beach to walk the relative distances between the planets. At each location, we played sounds of the planets and placed a flag to represent a planet. As part of the day, we were interviewed on the project by Jack Murley on Radio Cornwall.

Here is a link to the radio interview with BBC Radio Cornwalls Jack Murley

Thanks to Justin for the sounds and this video pf one of the flags blowing down the beach.

Here is a link to the work that artists Joanna Mayes and Justin Wiggan have been making during the project http://www.mayescreative.com/mtu.html

The Hurlers Inter-circle link under the Moonlight

The Hurlers is a wonderful triple stone circle site located within a larger ritual landscape on Bodmin Moor. There has been a number of excavations undertaken at the site including the exposing of the inter circle pathway, which is a unique and interesting feature.

During 2013 Mapping the Sun project, when the pathway was exposed and excavated, there was an observation that it could have been made to look like Milky Way on the ground. Although the pathway is now been turfed over we had the idea of recreating this effect. The moor itself has a yellow clay and anyone walking around in the troughs and valleys may find their boots stained in the wonderful yellow colour, although there was no remaining evidence of this we thought what would happen if the stones in this pathway had been packed with the yellow clay around them. How would that look under a full Moon? How would it look in the dying sunlight of an evening?

 

An experiment was born.

We headed out onto the moor with a long sheet of yellow cloth and laid it upon the location of the inter-circle link, we waited and watched the sunset and then we also watched what happened in the moonrise, I am sure you will love the results we found in the video below.

 

Apollo 50 and Cornwall

We had a wonderful day at Goonhilly Earth Station celebrating the lunar landings on Saturday. The celebrations kicked off early and went on all day and night, reaching the 3.56BST time which Neil Armstrong placed the first human footprint onto the moon.

I was there with Mayes Creative and their wonderful meteor sculpture and its cosmic ray detector. More can be seen about what we got up to where we were interviewed by Cornwall live.

I also made it onto ITV West country news on their Saturday night broadcast talking about cosmic rays – this can be viewed here

I also wrote a lovely article for Astronomy Now (July issue), all about the role Goonhilly played in the broadcasting of the Apollo 11 lunar landing images.  If you haven’t seen this months issue it’s well worth checking out as its full of wonderful lunar memories and features.

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A big thank you to all the people who made this event possible – it was wonderful to play a small part on the day in which Goonhilly showcased the best of Space Cornwall on this amazing anniversary.

Propped stone / pseudo quoit at Carn Kenidjack

Possible propped stone on Carn Kenidjack.

Walking towards Carn Kenidjack you cannot be astounded by the magnificent rock formation that forms the main outcrop on the hilltop. This natural formation is clearly visible for miles around and must have acted as a visual marker in the West Cornwall upland area.

Interestingly I have often wondered about one part of this formation which does not look like it is part of the natural feature but seems to be a later human addition. Approaching from the NE side or nearest North Road to the right hand side of the outcrop is a large rock propped onto 2 stones. One of these stones is much smaller than the other, but between the two they raise the large piece of granite away from the main structure. The large rock balanced on these stones has a capstone shape especially when viewed from further afield. About half a mile distant on a visible ridge is Chun Quoit and it amazes me the similarity in shape of the two objects when viewing the objects from each other. I wonder if the stone high on Carn Kenidjack is a propped stone or pseudo quoit much in the manner of the propped quoit of Leskernick.

A further consideration is that when you stand at Chun Quoit on the winter solstice you will see the Sun sets behind Carn Kenidjack and during prehistory it would have highlighted the pseudo quoit even more. If people did move a rock to the top of this formation it would have been a massive undertaking and shows the reverence they held for the Chun quoit on the local hillside and its connection at the winter solstice and the outcrop of Carn Kenidjack

Image taken at winter solstice sunset

Chun Castle

Chun Castle

Image taken by Carolyn Kennett (2019) please seek permission before reuse

Here is the wonderful Iron Age Chun Castle, taken by my drone on a really clear day in January.  What is amazing is how clear of bracken and gorse the site is, courtesy of the volunteers of the Penwith Landscape Partnership who were out clearing this in all weathers during December. The walls of this site used to be 5 meters in height until the stone was robbed to build Madron Workhouse. It was lived in by both people of the Iron Age and during the Medival period. The huts from the Iron age are rounded, while the huts from the medieval are squared edged. Well worth a visit before the undergrowth reclaims it again for another 40 years

The Winter Solstice – Astronomy Now December Issue 2018

This month I have written a piece for the Astronomy Now magazine about some of the best places to go and see the winter solstice.  I included a range of ancient sites throughout the UK and Ireland, which could offer a different type of experience depending on what you were looking for; from the mass gatherings at Stonehenge to the more personal at Calliagh Berra’s House in Northern Island. I could have written about many more wonderful sites and choosing the six sites for the article was perhaps one of the hardest things I had to do. So its worth exploring what winter solstice connections there are in your area before getting ready to head out on the day 🙂

Tregeseal Winter Solstice 2017

From this stone circle, the winter solstice falls into the only visible location on the horizon where you can see the sea. Framed within the sea gap is the Isles of Scilly.

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Image by Carolyn Kennett 2017

Secrets of the Stones: the Science of Archaeoastronomy

I had a wonderful chat with Julie Vural, who posted this piece about archaeoastronomy and culture on her blog The Dazzling Universe. It covers alignments in Cornwall and further afield as well as connections through the sky through objects such as the wonderful Alaca Höyük dagger. Which is one of the few examples of worked iron objects from prehistory with a meteorite origin. Anyway its well worth a read – the link is above.

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The Alaca Höyük dagger, on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations in Ankara