Sunday, December 30, 2007

WOW! YOU TOO CAN BE AT NEWGRANGE DURING THE WINTER SOLSTICE!

I've been to Newgrange, County Meath in Ireland, a couple of times but not in December. So although I wasn't among the lucky, I was delighted to see that through technology we can all experience this amazing sunrise within the megalithic monument of Newgrange. This year, a record 28,106 people from around the world applied to be one of the 50 lucky people allowed into Newgrange's cramped chamber, on one of the five days surrounding the solstice. There were 20 people inside the chamber on Friday morning (the 21st of December) who had won the annual lottery to get inside the chamber to witness the phenomenon.

Outside the megalithic monument, more than 200 'dawn watchers' had been gathering from the very early hours to wait for the sun to come up over the hill on the far side of the Boyne Valley and, this year, they got to see the spectacle as it was broadcast on the large screen erected outside. No rain or clouds but perfect sunrise, as you'll see for yourself!

From 8.58 am to 9.15 am, the winter sun shone through the roof box beginning with a small shaft of light that culminated in the full illumination of the chamber. The solstice phenomenon doesn't just occur on the shortest day of the year but for a number of days either side of the date and 'dawn watching' takes place for a total of six days when members of the public who won their places in the draw conducted earlier in the year are permitted to enter the passage tomb.

To view the highlights of the winter solstice, log onto http://www.heritageireland.ie Victor Reijs has also posted a six minute compilation on YouTube of the one hour long OPW streamed video. To view to full one hour OPW achieve or the six minute compilation click on http://www.newgrange.com/webcast.htm

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