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Outreach to Lindesay for a Winter Solstice celebration

On the 19th June 2021 Ann Cairns and Elizabeth Cocking and I presented an 'in conversation' event for the National Trust Women's Committee at Lindesay House, Darling Point. The event was attended by 50 or so members of the National Trust, and although the weather was not suitable for telescope viewing, the warm reception and interest in the talk made the event a success. here is a short recount of the presentation.

Lindesay is built on lands of the Gadigal People in the 1830s and this area once called Yarranabee and we paid respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the Aboriginal Peoples Custodianship of Country, sea and sky.

We imagined life tens of thousands of years ago, no artificial/man-made light and how we would be more likely to notice natural phenomenon, such as changes in the length of day. We would notice that the sun rises and sets further in the North as the daylight hours shorten. Natural features and horizons are more obvious because we were living with nature. We would observe the Sun making a lower arch in the sky as the temperatures cool and the days get shorter, then the reverse happens. And we would celebrate this turning from the shorter to longer daytime.

Tens of thousands of years ago Wurdi Youang, an Indigenous site of standing stones in Victoria and other indigenous sites and observations in Australia and the Torres Strait, were constructed and these indicate that Indigenous Peoples were observing, marking and passing on their observations. We discussed the way the Egyptians had strategically aligned openings in buildings to enable shafts of light during solstices and the standing stones by which to observe the solstices made by Neolithic peoples in the United Kingdom. Also the site in Peru called Chanquillo, where I was fortunate enough to see the Sun set on the Winter solstice, and Chako Canyon solar observatory in New Mexico. which Ann had visited There was much laughter about Elizabeth's description of the celebrations around the solstices in Ancient Greek and Roman times, particularly about the erotic cakes baked for women and other interesting ways of paying homage to gods such as Poseidon and Saturn.

We discussed the different ways of observing solar events and Ann had her H-Alpha telescope out in place for the few seconds when the Sun peeped through the clouds (Image below).

We thank the National Trust Women's and Lindesay Committees for their interest and hospitality.


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