The science of astronomy is very closely linked to instuments for observing and measuring the sky, some examples of which are included in this unique garden. All of the exhibits,– some of them very well known –have been developed throughout history to help humankind understand the movements of the different objects that we can see in the heavens, especially the sun and the stars.
These inventions (devices) will help you to understand some basic concepts like the apparent movement of the stars; the difference between solar and civil time or between longitude and latitude; when solstices and equinoxes start; what is the solar declination, etc… And we’ll do all of this in a fun and interactive way because there are very few things that excite more our curiosity than observing the sky above.
The Sun's Shadow
The gnomon is probably the world's oldest and simplest astronomical instrument: a simple vertical bar perpendicular to the ground which projects the sun's shadow onto a horizontal plane. 'Gnomon' is a Greek word meaning stick or cane. We can use this simple device to observe how the gnomon's shadow moves and how its length varies from season to season.Read more
Be a Gnomon!
You don't need anything to tell what the solar time is. Your body is all you need. In this activity you will be the gnomon; your shadow will indicate the solar time.Read more
The Sun's Altitude
This instrument is a plinth. It was described by Claudius Ptolemy in the second century A.D. and was used to measure the maximum altitude of the Sun above the horizon. At noon, at the highest point of its trajectory, the Sun crosses the meridian of the place of observation.Read more
Where is the Sun?
The Sun's position changes over the course of a day, but over longer periods of time as well; from month to month, for example. This movement is the reason why there are solstices and equinoxes—the topic of this module.Read more
Where does the Sun set?
We see the path taken by the Sun as it travels over the horizon as a great arc that stretches between two points. In this module we will learn about these two points, or where the sun 'rises' and the sun 'sets', as it is referred to in everyday language.Read more
Solar Clock: Solar Time and Civil Time
The movement of the Sun can also be quite useful in determining the time of day. In this exhibit we will look at two Sun clocks and learn the difference between solar time and civil time.Read more
Night and Day
Up until now we have talked about the portion of Earth that is illuminated by the Sun. But when one side of the planet is experiencing day, the opposite side is in darkness. For this portion of the Earth, it is night-time. A globe is a model of the Earth. It gives us a visual representation of the rotation of the Earth and the effects caused by this movement.Read more
The Sky in your Hands
In the Astronomy Garden you will be able to observe the movement of stars other than the Sun.Read more
The third celestial body featured in the Astronomy Garden is the Moon—the Earth's natural satellite. In addition to captivating the observer with its curiously cratered surface, the moon can also be used as a real clock.Read more
Are there Seas on the Moon?
Even a quick look at the moon's surface reveals light and dark areas. The lighter surfaces are known as 'terrae' (from the Latin for earth), and the darker surfaces are known as 'maria' (from the Latin for sea). Early astronomers believed that the latter were oceans. Although later on astronomers realised that there wasn't any water on the moon, the name remained. The lighter areas, or the so-called continents, are also commonly referred to as lunar highlands due to their higher altitude.Read more