Happy Winter Solstice!
This is the day when the sun appears to stands still (the literal meaning), rising and setting in the same place for several days around this date. The sun's arc is also at its lowest, giving us the least amount of light and warmth.
This also marks the return to longer days, and more light and warmth from the sun, as the sun's arc in the sky increases.
Since I could not be there in person, I spoke to G.B. Cornucopia, park ranger extraordinaire, and dear friend. The photo is one G.B. sent me from a previous year.
This morning at Chaco was clear and cold (minus 0 degrees Fahrenheit), with 43 hardy souls showing up at Pueblo Bonito before sunrise. They got to watch the sun's beam of light shine through a high corner doorway, and onto the wall. This is the only time it looks like this.
See how the sunlight in the photo marks a nice square shape on the wall?
The changing size and shape of the resulting light on the stone wall would have allowed the ancient Chacoans to mark important events, such as the return to longer days.
Don't you think you would have wanted to mark and celebrate the return of more sunlight!
I have yet to see this with my own eyes. One day I will!
I was there one year for solstice, but it snowed, so we could not see the sun. Instead, I experienced another kind of magic. That will be another post!
Are you one of the hardy souls who has had the privilege of seeing this in person? Do comment below and tell us your experience!