A solstice analemma

From Astronomy Picture of the Day… fascinating…

Analemma Over the Porch of Maidens
Credit & Copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis (TWAN)

Explanation: If you took a picture of the Sun at the same time each day, would it remain in the same position? The answer is no, and the shape traced out by the Sun over the course of a year is called an analemma. The Sun’s apparent shift is caused by the Earth’s motion around the Sun when combined with the tilt of the Earth’s rotation axis. The Sun will appear at its highest point of the analemma during summer and at its lowest during winter. Today, the Winter Solstice day in Earth’s northern hemisphere, the Sun is at the bottom of the analemma. Analemmas created from different latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. This particular analemma was built up by 46 separate Sun photographs taken during 2003 in Athens, Greece. Pictured in the foreground of this composite image are pillars called the Porch of Maidens, part of the ancient Erechtheum which was completed in 407 BC.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

I check Astronomy Picture of the Day every day.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. PMcGrath says:

    Wow. Yes. Fascinating.

    You know what it looks like? A pearl necklace for one of those maidens.

    Speaking of fascinating, Father Z: Did you know
    that our friends at the NLM and at Orbis Catholicus have posted some pictures of great historical vestments from your diocesan Museum?

  2. John R says:

    The analemma also measures the deviance of Solar Time (i.e. True Time) vs. Clock Time. Interestingly, on Christmas Day (not today), the two are identical.

    We should abolish all time zones and certainly that abominable, artificial concoction known as Daylight Savings Time. Solar Time is the natural time. Solar Time is what the Church used to measure the Hours for the Divine Office. Etc. etc. etc.

  3. John Yuhaniak says:

    Snippet from

    Jack Horkheimer”Star Gazer”
    The Cross and the Manger :
    A Cosmic Christmas Tale Retold”

    Cygnus a star pattern early Christians called the Northern Cross. It was also interesting to me that every year during Christmas week, around 8 p.m. or so that this cross stands almost upright on the northwestern horizon. And in December of ’87 as I was researching my Christmas show the little obscure star cluster called the “Bee Hive” caught my attention and jogged an old memory, for I remembered that the Bee Hive’s real name is ‘Praesepe’ which is Latin for ‘The Manger’. So I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be a nice coincidence if at Christmas time we could see both the Cross and the Manger at the same time?” Well, just for fun I picked up my star wheel and dialed in December 25th, 8 p.m. and noticed something which gave me a pleasant start . . . for indeed, there on the wheel at 8 p.m. on the 25th of December was not only the Northern Cross standing upright on the western horizon, just about to set, but directly opposite on the eastern horizon was Praesepe, the Manger, just rising. And they will always be there opposite each other in the heavens every year, every Christmas of our lives. How poetic. Indeed, in all my years as a star gazer I had never heard or read of this lovely coincidence. So, as you gaze up at the night sky this Christmas week at the setting Cross and the rising Manger, may the heavens themselves remind you of a wish that should know no religious boundaries and that is simply: Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men . . . a hope for all mankind of all beliefs if we remind each other to Keep Looking Up!


  4. dark_coven says:

    I’d rather believe in the traditional teaching of both Scripture and the unanimous consent of the Church Fathers that the Earth is motionless, and that the sun is the one revolving around the Earth. The trend of the scientific community has always been to contradict, disregard, and refute past findings (or disagree with one another). On the other hand, the infallible Word of God, and the understanding of Tradition tell us from the very beginning that the Earth is motionless and at the center of God’s created universe, and everything else (including the sun) revolves around it. Dr. Robert Sungenis’ arguments in his book Galileo Was Wrong are very convincing, scientifically and theologically as well.

  5. PMcGrath says:

    By the way, the photographer who took that picture also has his own astronomy photography Web site with a page of more analemmas taken over ruins of Greek temples. More fascination!

  6. Peg says:

    By the way, it is actually…”peace on earth to men of good will”.

  7. Clayton says:

    I wonder if dark_coven has ever used GPS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_relativity

  8. A Random Friar says:

    Hmmm… I wonder what the analemnas would look like in say, the Equator, the Poles and the Arctic-Antarctic circles.

  9. Ed says:

    Yeah for APOD!

    I check it daily, also. The incomprehensible majesty of God’s Creation, the Mystery, is so clearly reflected in the images found at the APOD site.

    When I reflect that the Author of all this was born as a human child, for us…

    Merry Christmas.

  10. Marcin says:

    Father, I am your fellow lurker into the APOD. I’ve put it as a gadget into my iGoogle home page (the first thing to look at) and if a picture is of particular beauty or scientific interest I download it to include in the ever growing collection used by my screen saver.

  11. dark_coven says:

    I wonder if Clayton is a traditional Catholic? Maybe not.

  12. dark_coven says:

    I wonder if Clayton read the Bible and the Church Fathers. Maybe not to busy with his GPS.

  13. Jordanes says:

    Dark Coven talks about the Church Fathers, but seems not to know what St. Augustine wrote:

    One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon.’ For He willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians. (De actis cum Felice Manichaeo, I, 10)

    One could ask which shape and form of heaven must be accepted by faith on the authority of Holy Scripture. Many dispute about these things which the sacred writers passed by in silence, because they are without importance for attaining eternal life. . . in short, the Spirit of God who spoke through them did not wish to teach things which contribute nothing to salvation. (De genesi ad litteram, II, 9, 20)

    Or as Cardinal Baronius famously put it, “The Holy Ghost intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

    I think St. Augustine is more likely to be right about this than you or Robert Sungenis. I recommend you read Jerome Langford’s “Galileo, Science, and the Church.”

    The deposit of faith does not include the scientific facts about the motions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. Therefore there is no traditional teaching of either Scripture or the Church Fathers that the earth is motionless and that the sun revolves around the earth. The Church was given the Faith to teach, and She is fortified by the Holy Spirit to teach the Faith infallibly. The Church was not given astronomical data to teach — she has no competence in such matters, so we should not be surprised that that Catholics and even Popes were ignorant of scientific facts that nobody back then could know, and therefore misinterpreted Holy Scripture as saying something it wasn’t really saying.

  14. A Random Friar says:

    It may sound frivolous, but when I get a glorified body, I would love to explore the Cosmos.

    Unfortunately, the old heavens would’ve probably passed away by then. :)

Comments are closed.