Sunday, February 01, 2009

Viewing the Moon Where the Ancients Did

I havaen't figured out yet how to copy an available web image of the new moon to my blog, but no matter.

Like a thousand others, I climbed to the top of the hill at Las Plazuelas last night for LaNochedelasEstrellas, Mexico's way of participating in International Astronomy Day. The payoff: a clear night: the constellations overhead (with the North Star nowhere near where it "ought" to be. a glimpse of the moon through a telescope and being part of the throng having a good time at this well-arranged event intended to stimulate interest in science and pride in the calculating abilities of the people who built the Plazuelas complex.. This no-cost occasion, like the twenty-two others around the country was sponsored by INAH.

Las Plazuelas, one of four archaeological sites in the state, can be visited during daytime arrives by driving south of Penjamo or taking a bus to Irapuato, then Penjamo and on by here colectivo to within walking distance of the site, but of course the star and moon viewing was at night, meaning someone had to make arrangements. The ""someone" coordinating was the Alliance Francaise.

If I hadn't mentioned at lunch to a friend my disappointment that I WASN'T going to be able to attend even though I had bought a newspaper specifically to find out how, I wouldn't have found out what to do! That's the way things work in Guanajuato. I won't go into all the details here; you'll just have to believe me when I say that I rate my being on one of the buses provided a happy blend of luck and persistence.

For the people of the nearest community, the evening was a chance to supplement their income by selling gorditas, atole, ponche and other warming goodies. All in all, for me -- and who knows how many budding scientists? -- a memorable night.

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