Friday, 31 August 2012

Blue Moon Expected over Stonehenge - Friday, August 31st: A Can't-Miss Astrological Phenomenon

If you have ever heard the phrase "once in a blue moon," you might have wondered if there is an actual blue lunar body in our wonderous world somewhere. In fact, there is, but it isn't really blue. The term refers to the occurrence of two full moons within one calendar month, and Friday, August 31st, you'll be able to catch it twice.

Anthony Cook, an astronomer at the Griffin Observatory, explained how and when to catch the moon. First, you'll be able to see it Friday morning between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. on the West Coast, and then again when it comes into view at around 7:13 p.m. Although the phenomenon may not be noteworthy enough to change your schedule to see it, most will be able to take a look at one time or another if they look at the sky.

Although the moon isn't actually blue, there is a chance that it might be rather orange tomorrow when it shows itself, but Cook said that it would most likely simply be a very bright shade of white. He said that there was "nothing unusual really" about the blue lunar body, adding, "It will look like the usual moon."

Oddly, there are some atmospheric conditions that could make the blue seem to be blue, but they have nothing to do with the actual blue moon phenomenon. The occurrence is fairly rare. The last time one was present was December of 2009. "The next time will be on July 31, 2015," Cook said.

It is likely that if the moon does turn orange, or blue or any other color, that someone will announce that it's the end of the world. However, don't be alarmed. The end isn't here...yet.
by Gabriel Legend -

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Stonehenge: a new dawn

Work has begun on a project to make a visit to Stonehenge as awe-inspiring as the stones themselves – and to allow visitors to explore the majesty of the surrounding landscape
Stonehenge – 'as old and as ­important as the Egyptian necropolis at Giza'. Photograph: Yoshihiro Takada/amanaimages/Corbis

It is one of Britain's most popular tourist attractions, a Unesco World Heritage Site and a relic of utmost importance in unravelling our past. It serves as an icon of Britain, its trademark trilithons a visual shorthand for heritage, hippies and unknowable mystery. It has been immortalised by Constable, Wordsworth, Hardy and Vonnegut. Spinal Tap named a song after it and in the film Help!, the Beatles sang nearby. It's also a symbol of proprietorial greed, its £7.80 entrance fee allowing passage through a dank tunnel and a walk around, rather than among, the stones; according to a random sample of visitor reactions, Stonehenge is "just a pile of rocks", "smaller than I thought it would be" and a "rip-off".

Stonehenge, encompassed by an aura of utilitarian tat – a shabby entrance, chain-link fences and the thunder of two busy roads – is as old and as important as the Egyptian necropolis at Giza, but you wouldn't guess that from its presentation, which has all the aesthetic allure of a bus station. Last month, after nearly 30 years of dead-end schemes, English Heritage finally began work on an attempt to bring Stonehenge back to its proper setting, starting with the construction of a new visitor centre – a graceful low-rise building hidden a mile and a half to the west at Airman's Corner – which promises to tell the story of the people who built the historic site.

The centre will feature artefacts on loan from local museums, as well as 21st-century multimedia and the ubiquitous gift shop. Its construction also promises to sweep away a busy road, the fence, the car park and the jumble of "temporary" buildings installed close to the stones in 1968. A low-key transit system will ferry visitors to and from Stonehenge and stop off at points between, allowing sightseers to explore the wider landscape. "People arrive here and focus on the stones but lose an opportunity to see what else is out there," says English Heritage's head of Stonehenge, Peter Carson, from the current car park, close to the monument. "The new entrance should allow them to appreciate the landscape before they see the jewel in the crown."

It is what visitors to Stonehenge have been missing all this time: the complex of ancient earthworks and burial mounds flecked across a chalk downland is as much a part of the monument as the stones themselves. The removal of the road and fence that runs to the north will unite Stonehenge with the Heelstone, the outlying monolith that marks the end of the Avenue, the ancient processional route to the stones. Stonehenge is perched at the head of a low ridge, an eminence of chalk that seems inconsequential from almost every viewpoint except this one. When approaching the circle via the Avenue, the monument appears to rise above the wild flowers of Stonehenge Down. It might be coincidence, but it feels more like an act of showbusiness designed to provoke a response.

Elsewhere on the down, earthworks even older than the henge are spattered across the landscape and access to them will be eased. A visit to the Stonehenge Cursus, a mysterious earthwork more than one-and-a-half miles long, will be aided by a stop off on the transit system, while the sites of 10,000-year-old mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) postholes 75cm in diameter and the oldest man-made feature anywhere on the down, will be exhumed from under the car park, where they are currently marked by white blobs of road paint, daubed mini-roundabout-style over the tarmac.

Nothing speaks louder about our current treatment of Stonehenge than these splodges; for somewhere that should be brimming with mystery and ancient magic, Stonehenge has had to wait a while to truly delight us.

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Stonehenge Tour Guide

Friday, 3 August 2012

Jeremy Deller's inflatable Olympic Stonehenge, a big hit with young and old on Parliament Hill

WHAT the Neolithic peoples who built Stonehenge really thought when they stood back and admired their handiwork will forever be a mystery.
What is almost certain is that they didn’t bounce up and down on it – unlike the inflatable version in Parliament Hill fields.
However, yesterday, queues of up to 300 waited patiently for their turn for a leap on Sacrilege, an inflatable bouncy castle-style installation dreamt up by artist Jeremy Deller.
Everybody, from toddlers to pensioners, were lining up for a go, despite a spot of drizzle.
This “interactive” artwork is a 110-ft wide creation and has been touring the country before Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s office booked it as part of the capital’s celebrations for the Olympics.
Not all the bouncers, however, were clear on Stonehenge’s history.

Jack Hughes, 11, said confidently: “The Scottish built the monument in BC, a long time ago before King William, the stones are very spiritual, they used them for signs and protection.”
Jack Deasy, nine, added: “Stonehenge was built by people a long time ago in the Stone Age to mark where their land started.”
Peter Eiseman-Renyard, 66, from Camden, was a bit more informed. “I am a bit of an archeological buff,” he said. “It was not the druids who built it, apparently it was the Beaker folk who were from the Stone to Bronze Age. It is brilliant. It is a joke, it is silly, it is of absolutely no use.”
Sacrilege’s creator artist Jeremy Deller said his bouncy creation was “a way for everyone to learn about these places in quite a silly way.” “It is difficult not to like it when you are bouncing around on it,” he added.
“City Hall teamed up with us but Boris has not had a bounce on it, even though it is really up his street in so many different ways.
“I have bounced on it but it is quite tough on the legs, you can over exert yourself, you should warm up before going on it.”
Speaking before Team GB struck gold in rowing and cycling yesterday (Wednesday), he added: “I was quite liking that Britain was doing so badly in the Olympics, it is brilliantly typical of Britain to host it and do terribly.”
The bouncers kept on coming.
Maggie Eiseman-Renyard, said: “When I first came to the UK as a student tourist from New York in 1966, I took a coach trip to Stonehenge and I was appalled that people wanted to drink, play football and climb on the real thing.”
Lucy Brooks added: “There are tours to Stonehenge but they cost quite a bit of money. But this is awesome, without spending any money or leaving London we have seen some of our great British heritage on our doorstep.
“My 10-year-old daughter is a budding artist and I can see her looking at the construction and thinking about it – it is wonderful.”


Stonehenge Tour Guide