December 21, 2001


Provided by: Emily Mace
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

The above photo shows Stonehenge on a hazy afternoon. It's thought that Stonehenge was associated with Druid rituals and was also a kind of ancient astronomical calculator. There's strong evidence that Stonehenge was purposely aligned with certain positions of the Sun during the course of the year, such as the solstices. The winter solstice occurs today (Friday, December 21) at 2:21 p.m. (eastern standard time). This date is the astronomical beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and it's linked with Christmas, and the festival of Saturnalia.

Stonehenge stands on the open plains near Salisbury, England. It's not a single structure but consists of a series of earth, timber, and stone that was re-modelled over a period of more than 1,400 years. The earliest portion of the complex dates to approximately 4,000 years ago.

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