Welcome to the December
solstice, a day
world does not end ... even
according to the Mayan Calendar.
To celebrate, consider
this dramatic picture
of Orion rising
over El Castillo, the central pyramid at
Chichén Itzá, one of the great Mayan centers on the
Also known as the Temple of Kukulkan it stands 30 meters tall
and 55 meters wide at the base.
Built up as a series of square terraces by the pre-Columbian
civilization between the 9th and 12th century,
the structure can be used as a calendar and is noted for
In fact, the Mayans were accomplished astronomers and mathematicians,
accurately using the cyclic motions of the stars,
Sun, Moon, and planets to measure time and
Peering through clouds in this night skyscape,
stars in the modern constellation Orion the Hunter
represented a turtle in the Mayan sky.
(Los Cielos de
Credits: D. Flores and B. Pichardo
(Inst. Astronomia UNAM),
P. Sánchez and R. Nafate