As most of you know, Bruce Henderson has been running a months long Newton Scavenger Hunt over the last 10 weeks. He’s had 50 photos of all kind of weird and wonderful items that can be seen from public spaces in Newton.
As time went on, one of the items, #45 Stepping Stones, began to pique Bruce’s interest. It’ sort of a miniature Stonehenge. The two vertical stones at the end of the assemblage had a narrow crack between them. Bruce noticed that in early September the sun almost aligned with that crack. He went down there in recent weeks with a yard stick, a compass app on his phone, and the NOAA charts for sun elevation, and realized that on the autumn equinox on Sept 20 it appeared that the sun would shine between these stones and illuminate a thin band in front. Bruce surmised that the NewtonHenge was built by the 19th century Luther Paul family and carefully calibrated to track the earth’s annual journey around the sun.
Last week Bruce crossed paths with Newton Astronomer Matt Lister. Lister explained that if NewtonHenge was indeed aligned to light up for the autumn equinox at dusk, that it would also be aligned in the early morning for the June solstice.
Bruce sent out a general invitation to join him today, Sept 19, one day ahead of the equinox at NewtonHenge to test out his theory.
This afternoon, not only did the Druids turn up, but Curt Lamb did as well. Curt is the artist who it turns out created NewtonHenge – not 100 years ago but only 10 years ago. Says Curt “I created this to celebrate the history of the area but I had no idea about astronomy or the equinox when we built it”. As he was saying these words, the sun shone down through the two stones and illuminated a thin beam on the grass in front of the stones … much to the Druid’s delight.
It appears that Mr Lamb with the help of a DPW crew 10 years ago accidentally created a celestial sun dial. Said the Druid who was with us this afternoon, “I’m beginning to think the ancients who built Stonehenge may have been driven in the same way. They were compelled by powers beyond themselves to construct a stone artifice, that without their knowledge, was intimately tied to the inner workings of the universe.
That’s one hell of a happy ending Bruce for your 2020 Newton Scavenger Hunt.
If the sun’s out tomorrow, head out to Week’s Field from 4:26 PM – 4:54 PM and see for yourself. Between now and next year Bruce’s mission is to see about trimming the one tree that’s interfering with the annual celestial show.
Postscript: Paul Levy was there today on September 20, the day of the autumnal equinox. Right on schedule, here’s what he saw. An accident? I don’t think so.