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Sparavigna, A. (2017). Alignment along the Moonrise on Major Lunar Standstills of the Pipers, the Pair of Standing Stones at St Buryan. PHILICA.COM Article number 1127.

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Alignment along the Moonrise on Major Lunar Standstills of the Pipers, the Pair of Standing Stones at St Buryan

Amelia Carolina Sparavignaunconfirmed user (Department of Applied Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino)

Published in enviro.philica.com

Abstract
Here we discuss the alignment of a pair of standing stones, the Pipers of St Buryan, UK, along the moonrise of major lunar standstills. We use, for showing this alignment, the Photographer’s Ephemeris software.

Article body


 

Alignment along the Moonrise on Major Lunar Standstills of the Pipers, the Pair of Standing Stones at St Buryan

 

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna

Politecnico di Torino

 

Here we discuss the alignment of a pair of standing stones, the Pipers of St Buryan, UK, along the moonrise of major lunar standstills. We use, for showing this alignment, the Photographer’s Ephemeris software.

 

The Pipers of St Buryan are a pair of standing stones, located near the Merry Maidens stone circle in Cornwall, United Kingdom (Figure 1). Today, the two stones stand in separate fields, and are about 90 meters apart. As told in [1], the southwest stone is the taller of the two and it is 4.7 meters high. The northeast stone is 4.2 meters high. The area is rich of archaeological remains as we can see from the Google Map in Figure 2. Thanks to Google Earth we can also see the elevation profile of the site (Figure 3) and of the alignment of the two standing stones (Figure 4). Between the Pipers, there is an elevation difference of about 10 meters on a distance of 90 meters.

In [1], we read that the "Pipers are on a northeast to southwest alignment which points almost directly at The Merry Maidens". in fact, this is true. However the Pipers could also have another remarkable alignment. If we use the Photographer's Ephemeris software, we can evidence it: the two stones are aligned along the northern possible moonrise, that corresponding to a major lunar standstill.

The moon has an apparent behavior, which is more complex than that of the sun. We have that the sunrise direction oscillates between the two solstice positions during a year, whereas the moon does the same during a nodal period (about 27 days). Moreover, the moon has a period – the lunar standstill period (18.613 years) – on which the values of the extreme directions (standstills) are changing. In this manner there are major and minor standstills, of which we can calculate the directions that are depending on latitude. For a latitude of about 45°, like that of Torino for instance, we have that the minor and major northern moonrise azimuths (directions) are 47.40° and 65.65° (angles are given from true north). The minor and major southern moonrise azimuths are 116.35° and 132.58°. The azimuths of sunrise on summer and winter solstices are between these lunar azimuths. For the calculation of moonrise azimuths, we can use the formula given by Jürgen Giesen at his web site http://www.geoastro.de/sunmoonpolar/index.html#Mondwenden, or use a software such as the above-mentioned Photographer's Ephemeris, as we did in some previous papers [2-5].

In the Figure 5 we can see the result of the simulation made by means of this software. We have a good alignment, within 1.5 degrees. It seems therefore possible that an observer at the southern Piper could see the moon rising close to the point of the horizon marked by the northern Piper.   


References

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pipers,_St_Buryan

[2] Sparavigna, A. C. (2016). The Temple Complex of Ggantija and the Major Lunar Standstill as Given by the Photographer's Ephemeris (August 24, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828614 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2828614

[3] Sparavigna, A. C. (2016). Augusta Emerita and the Major Lunar Standstill of 24 BC (July 10, 2016). PHILICA Article Number 635. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2807544

[4] Sparavigna, A. (2016). Astronomical Alignments of Ales Stenar along Sunset and Moonset Directions. PHILICA.COM Article number 663.

[5] Sparavigna, A. C. (2016). Megalithic Quadrangles and the Ancient Astronomy (November 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862330 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2862330

 

 

 

Figure 1: This image is the picture of the Pipers that we can find in Wikipedia.  The copyright on this image is owned by Jim Champion and licensed for reuse under  CC 2.0 license.

 

 

Figure 2: The archaeological sites in the area. Courtesy Google Maps.

 

Figure 3: Elevation profile of the area. Courtesy Google Earth.

 

Figure 4: Elevation profile of the alignment of the two Pipers. Courtesy Google Earth.

 

 

Figure 5:  In the image, the blue lines represent the northern moonrise and moonset azimuths on a major lunar standstill (1 May 2025). The yellow and orange lines are the sunrise and sunset azimuths. The images had been obtained from a snapshot of the Photographer’s Ephemeris results. The two Pipers are encircled with white.

 


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This Article has not yet been peer-reviewed
This Article was published on 15th October, 2017 at 13:25:36 and has been viewed 232 times.

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The full citation for this Article is:
Sparavigna, A. (2017). Alignment along the Moonrise on Major Lunar Standstills of the Pipers, the Pair of Standing Stones at St Buryan. PHILICA.COM Article number 1127.


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1 Author comment added 21st October, 2017 at 10:02:05

Today, October 21, about the Pipers, I have found this remarkable work entitled
“Archaeoastronomy: was the Merry Maidens site an astronomical observatory?”, posted on April 14, 2014 by Sherry Towers. Here the link http://sherrytowers.com/2014/04/14/archeoastronomy-was-the-merry-maidens-site-an-astronomical-observatory/
In the post we read “yes, it does appear that the Merry Maidens site was probably used at least to observe the sunrise on the winter solstice. How about alignments to notable neighboring sites of interest? The bearing defined by the Pipers is 40.2N, and stones 11 and 20 of Merry Maidens circle lie exactly along this bearing. As you can see in the chart above, that bearing closely matches the azimuth of the northern rise of the major moon standstill. (Image from Google Earth).” The post also tells that there are 19 stones in the circle, and this number is the closest integer matching “to the 18.6 year lunar cycle, so it may be that the circle was used for other lunar observations as well”.
Sherry Towers is also noting the following about the Boscawen-Un site.
“Just like the Merry Maidens site, the Boscawen-Un site has menhirs in the vicinity to the northeast”. A menhir “lies at a bearing of 41.6 degrees from the Boscawen-Un’s center stone … This is quite close to the rise azimuth of the Moon at its major Northern standstill.”
This observation is very interesting for further researches on relative positions of stone cicles and menhirs.




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