EXHIBITS: Catching Rays

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Science  09 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5741, pp. 1655
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5741.1655a

Tracking the seasons was so important for the Maya of Central America and many other ancient cultures that they designed buildings and settlements around the sun's annual movements. Visit some of the sun cities of North America at Traditions of the Sun, sponsored by NASA. The site's historic and modern photos, time-lapse series, video, and other multimedia whisk you off to Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico. Watch sunlight creep over the great house of Pueblo Bonito on the summer solstice, or take a virtual reality tour of the kiva at Casa Rinconada, which aligns with the points of the compass. From there you can zoom to Mayan cities on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula such as Chichén Itzá and Dzibilchaltún. The House of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltún provided a spectacular visual effect for a key Mayan ceremony. On the spring and fall equinoxes, the sun rises directly behind the building and shines through the archway.


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