Astronomers celebrate the season

Ceremony set for Wednesday at Pen Henge to observe winter solstice

Astronomer Chris Purton points to the alignment of the sun and Pen Henge rock markers at the summit of Munson Mountain

Chris Purton has his fingers crossed for clear weather next Wednesday.

That’s because Purton and fellow members of the Okanagan Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society are inviting everyone to come join them as they celebrate the winter solstice on top of Munson Mountain, and a nice sunset will clearly show the sun’s southernmost setting point as shadows line up on the heel stone of Pen Henge.

Pen Henge, which is Penticton’s answer to Stonehenge, is three stones marking the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes. And at  3:27 p.m. on Dec. 21, the shadow of the winter solstice stone should line up precisely with the heel stone.

“It’s a way to celebrate the solstice, and if the weather is kind to us, we can see the Pen Henge in operation,” said Purton. “The stones are lined up to mark sunset directions at the beginning of each season, and here it is, the beginning of winter.”

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, so from that day on, the days will be growing longer again as the sun climbs back into the northern sky. It’s a time, Purton said, that has been celebrated in many cultures for thousands of years.

“We’re connecting with quite an old tradition,” said Purton. “I was amazed by the variety of different cultures that celebrate winter solstice in their own way all over the world.”

Locally, he continued, that includes the Syilx people. Purton said that according to Richard Armstrong, the Penticton Indian Band’s knowledge keeper, the Syilx watch for the solstice as the time to begin the winter dances.

The event gets underway at about 3 p.m. Purton explains that they like to be up on Munson in time to watch the sun diving into the horizon and see the shadows changing.

“It’s worth being there early,” he said. “But one has to dress warmly.”

 

Just Posted

First Things First and Penticton Lakeside Resort hosting environmental all-candidates debate Oct. 15

Ahead of the debate, there will be a round table discussion with the candidates

Final day of racing approaching at the Penticton Speedway

The Halloween finale starts at 2 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Travelling around the world of Penticton’s cuisines with Foodtopia

The 500 block celebrated the variety of restaurants on Main Street with a night of specials.

Parts of KVR Trail becoming dumping ground for stolen vehicles

More vehicles are turning up due to more patrolling, says Const. James Grandy

Hungry can enjoy Thanksgiving meal thanks to Soupateria volunteers

Thanksgiving and Christmas busiest time of year, says volunteer Randy Cranston

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

Shuswap ski area vies for $250,000 as top-four finalist in national contest

Help needed to accumulate votes or ‘clicks’ Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday for trail lighting project

Letter: Policies need to be put into context

Reader wants to put party policies into the context of money compared to the natural world.

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

Most Read