Hanging from the Tropic of Capricorn

Hanging from the Tropic of Capricorn!

Hanging from the Tropic of Capricorn!

   With the recent change of seasons on the December Solstice I was reminded of a favorite teaching tool of mine. Developed in New Zealand, what may appear to be a unique design for a climbing frame is in reality a ‘unique design for a climbing frame’. However it is not just the design as this climbing frame is also an outdoor Planetarium of sorts. This is Pipehenge, and it is a climbing frame that is made specifically for the latitude where it will be installed. And when set up the Pipehenge is positioned to be aligned with local compass directions. PipehengeThere is a circumpolar ring centered on the North Pole star, or the South Celestial Point, a horizon bar, and bars representing the celestial equator, both ‘Tropic’ parallels, and several bars for Hour Circles. The structure of the Pipehenge is such that when seated on a stool in the center you could imagine sitting inside a Celestial Sphere.
   Update: Pipehenge and the desktop Earth-Space Simulator may no longer be available. An Internet search shows that the two web sites for Pipehenge and the ‘ESS’ are no longer available, aka no longer in use. The best references for the Pipehenge are on a web page written by one of the developers, John Dunlop of New Zealand. Also, click here to go to the Pipehenge YouTube web page to see a collection of short video clips featuring Eric Jackson explaining and demonstrating the Pipehenge model.solar_noon1
   Watch a short demonstration of the Portable Pipehenge by Steve Bevan.

ess   Bring the Pipehenge indoors with a desktop model called the Earth Space Simulator. This arrives in kit form and takes a short while to assemble into a hands-on model that simulates the apparent motions of the sky for any time of the year and for any latitude. It is an ideal teaching tool, for example, the effect latitude has on the Sun’s daily and seasonal apparent motion from sunrise to sunset.


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

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