Published On: Thu, May 22nd, 2014

The Mayan “Zenith Passage” 3 days without shade

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The main buildings of many Mayan archaeological sites such as Aké, Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Dzibilchaltún remain without shade for several hours during the days of the first “Mayan Zenith Passage”, from May 22nd to the 25th, when the sun sets at the Zenith.

Eddie Ariel Salazar Gamboa, Professor of the Merida Institute of Technology (ITM ),  said that this phenomenon allowed the pre-Columbian Maya to make adjustments to their calendar, even “zenith observatories” were created in many of these sites.

Ake archaeological site

Ake archaeological site

Professor Salazar Gamboa said: “The transit of the Sun through the zenith is a way of measuring time, which was well planned and designed when building their sacred temples, by checking the perpendicularity of the sunlight.”

Every year, six archaeoastronomical phenomena are recorded in most of the Mayan cities, in which the sun plays an important role. These events are the Spring and Autumn Equinox,  the Summer  and Winter Solstice and the two Zenith Passages“.

Just during these days of the Zenith Passages, the Sun is directly over our heads, and therefore, people who are standing or walking will lack shade, same as buildings or any object that is completely vertical” Professor Salazar explained.

“In these three days (May 22, 23 and 24), the sun will be right in the zenith at 12:50 hours , and this phenomenon will not happen again until Saturday July 19th”.

The intermediate point between the two Zenith Passages is the Summer Solstice , that will take place next June 21, when the Sun will have its maximum declination north, while marking the longest day of the year, and hence shorter night,” Salazar Gamboa concluded.


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