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If you're in San Juan de Ortega tomorrow ...


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#3
Correct me if I'm wrong but if I understand correctly, both from an astronomy article and videoclips, you can see the phenomenon not only on the day of the equinox but also on the two or three days before and after. Spring equinox this year was on 20 March 2018 at 16:15 UT. I'm not sure at what time of the day you can see the event in San Juan de Ortega, I think it's late in the afternoon?

PS: I know that it says 21 March in the article but they are a bit out of date ... :cool:.
 
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#4
Correct me if I'm wrong but if I understand correctly, both from an astronomy article and videoclips, you can see the phenomenon not only on the day of the equinox but also on the two or three days before and after. Spring equinox this year was on 20 March 2018 at 16:15 UT. I'm not sure at what time of the day you can see the event in San Juan de Ortega, I think it's late in the afternoon?

PS: I know that it says 21 March in the article but they are a bit out of date ... :cool:.

Oh, Kathar1na, I am always so happy when you jump in to correct the bald assertions and provide the nuance. This is great news for anyone walking in the vicinity now, maybe you can see this extraordinary phenomenon for the next couple of days. That capital is surely one of the most spectacular I have seen anywhere, and with the sun shining directly on it, it must be crazily beautiful.
 
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#5
In 2015 was there on the 21st of March and it was a trip to walk off a very muddy camino into a throng of tour buses! Unfortunately the weather was rotten, so no sunbeams. But even so, the stonework was very special. Don't miss it, no matter what the date. 20150321_120251 (800x450).jpg IMG_7534.JPG IMG_7525.JPG IMG_7538.JPG IMG_7526.JPG
 

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#7
Who are those guys in the boat on the stormy seas?
The sarcophagus in the centre of the nave had all these amazing little montages and that was one of them. I wish I knew for sure, but I think they're scenes from the life of San Juan. Here's another that I particularly like because the oxcart is exactly the same as the ones I see out my window here in Burma every morning. IMG_7536.JPG
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#8
@Kathar1na & @peregrina2000
I don't think few hours (or even couple of days) makes whole lot of a difference to us ordinary people. But watching a final match of UEFA Football League Championship (that's soccer for you yanks) between Barcelona and Manchester Utd. in 2011 in Ages is unforgettable. I have had maybe three or four cases of hangover in my whole life and the day after was one of them ;)
Equinox, well it might work. Or it might not :D
 
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#9
There’s a similar occurrence in Los Arcos.
We just happened to be there on the right day.
Each year on August 16 (and presumably the ‘mirror’ date in about April), at sunset the sun’s rays pass through a hole in the archway at the West end of the town square, to illuminate the image of the Virgin & Child over the entrance to the Church of Santa Maria (12th C).
A bit like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie...

24B28918-F3B2-435C-AC7D-A779B5CA110B.jpeg
 
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#10
This piqued my curiosity, and I found myself wondering if engineering these sorts of effects could have been more common than we think. I can easily imagine that an imitative competition could have been going on, at all levels - from parish churches to great cathedrals.
So I asked Google and (by 'coincidence?') got this as the first hit:
ILLUMINATION EFFECTS AT THE CATHEDRAL OF SAINT JAMES (GALICIA): FIRST RESULTS by Benito Vilas Estévez and A. César González-García
It says this (and many other fascinating things):
"Nevertheless, different sources indicate that, from the beginning of the construction of the Romanesque cathedral in the high Middle Ages, light and shadow effects and allegoric images were considered at the façades of the temple that were not the result of improvisation."

So...it sounds like it must have been a not-so-uncommon 'thing' people did when designing such structures.
 
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#11
Oh, VN, those are beautiful pictures. Who are those guys in the boat on the stormy seas?
Juan de Ortega went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and on the return journey, their ship got into a storm and threatened to sink. I suppose San Juan is the one on the right, praying for help (to San Nicolas de Bari who was the competent saint for such matters).
 
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#12
There is something odd about this but I can't get my head around it. Why is this display of light on the sculpture of the Annunciation not centered around the feast day of the Annunciation, namely on 25 March?
 
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#13
There is something odd about this but I can't get my head around it. Why is this display of light on the sculpture of the Annunciation not centered around the feast day of the Annunciation, namely on 25 March?
Could it be the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars?
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#14
This piqued my curiosity, and I found myself wondering if engineering these sorts of effects could have been more common than we think. I can easily imagine that an imitative competition could have been going on, at all levels - from parish churches to great cathedrals.
Happened to me too during my first, last and only visit to SdC cathedral in 2011.

1603-sun lit statue in the Cathedral (Santiago de Compostela, 23.06.2011).jpg

And in my room:

1615-room in Pension on Rua Vilar (Santiago de Compostela, 23.06.2011).jpg
 
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#15
And if you’re ever in Tanis, I’m led to believe it’s well worth visiting the Map Room at the right time of day, particularly if you’re trying to find your way to the Well of Souls. Just make sure that you get the length of the staff right...

24D46B61-6CA1-4614-83C2-501F9AB44F59.jpeg
 
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Camino(s) past & future
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#16
Could it be the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars?
It doesn't work out, at least not the way I think it should ;). I spent the best part of an afternoon on this but I'm not happy with the results. Interestingly, I learnt about the Spanish Era or era of Caesar, which according to Wikipedia at least, was a dating system commonly used in the states of the Iberian peninsula until the 14th–15th centuries. It goes back to the time of the Romans in Spain. And J. Caesar, when introducing his calendar reform, actually aligned the day of the spring equinox with the date of 25 March. To be continued ... :cool:.
 
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#17
I'm still intrigued by this. It just makes no sense to me that it's on the days around the vernal equinox (around 20 March) and not on the days around Annunciation (25 March). So if anyone can shed light on this, please pretty please .....! I understand - and it's also obvious when you go inside - that the front part of the church San Juan de Ortega was added/remodelled a few hundred years after the initial completion because a visiting queen thought that the church was quite "a poor affair" and ordered and financed works to be done. So the window through which the light falls on the sculpture is actually from a later date but one could assume that there was a window with a similar function in the initial façade.

I've known that medieval churches were built along an East-West axis and that they often used the vernal equinox for orientation purposes. There is an article about this but it's in Spanish so I'm struggling quite a bit. Here is the abstract:

We present the results of the on-going effort to measure the orientation of a comprehensive number of churches in Galicia. We have measured the orientation of the apse of 25 churches so far. Although the results are still preliminary we can obtain a number of interesting conclusions. The churches in our sample present a similar trend to those of the same period recently measured in the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. There is a general tendency towards orientations slightly north of due equinoctial east. This tendency is consistent with a use of sunrise on March 25th at the time of construction to orientate the building. In this respect, the Cathedral of Santiago may be a paradigmatic case.
What is also a little odd, perhaps, because it's such a small building: there are actually two annunciation scenes on different capitals, one near the North wall and one near the South wall. Or is this something else? Oh drats, another place I have to visit again!!!

SJOrtega.jpg
 
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#18
What I think is so interesting is that the basic phenomenon - using focused sunlight to make people go "Ooooooo!" - seems very much along the same lines as what people have been doing since time immemorial. Think Stonehenge. Awe opens the heart like nothing else.
The paper you cite is by the same person who wrote the one I had seen. He might be the one to ask about this apparent anomaly. Write him a letter and ask, maybe? There must be a reason...
 
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#19
The paper you cite is by the same person who wrote the one I had seen.
Ha, you are a genius, @VNwalking. Your comment gave me the idea to google with different search parameters, and I discovered that the author has published about this topic in English and it's available on Researchgate.

I agree about the "awe" factor but sometimes I'm also awed by something else: the increase in technological and scientific knowledge that made it all possible in the first place. Something that's - regrettably - often overlooked in the general narrative. :cool:

Another abstract, in better English this time: The orientation of Christian churches is a distinctive feature of its architecture, repeating patterns from early Christian times that show a general tendency to orientate their apses in the solar range, with a predilection for orientations near the astronomical equinox. We measured the orientation of a total of 167 churches built prior to A.D. 1086. A comprehensive statistical analysis of the sample indicates a decisive orientation pattern, with a clear tendency to orientate according to the standard tradition, albeit with certain particularities. Three subsamples are examined to find the tendencies at each different historical time. This exercise indicates that the main group of orientations seem to relate to the Canonical equinox on 25 March, while popular ‘expected’ orientations, such as that of the rising sun on the day of the patron saint of the church, are completely absent. Other groups of orientations are specific to each period, such as that towards sunrise on Saint James’s day, important only after the discovery of the saint’s tomb in the ninth century.
 
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#20
I came across a website where someone took photos for half an hour, from 18:52 until 19:22:

Sequence SJO.jpg
Surprising to see that the equinox sunlight does not only highlight the sculptures of annunciation and nativity but also a retablo depicting the Final Judgment which is actually in the center of the sunbeams. How come that this is never mentioned? Don't people stay long enough :cool:?
 
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#21
I'm also awed by something else: the increase in technological and scientific knowledge that made it all possible in the first place. Something that's - regrettably - often overlooked in the general narrative. :cool:
Ditto. That's the first thing that gets me about this actually, the 'Wow, how's they do that?' aspect.
Don't people stay long enough :cool:?
:D
The buses have their engines running in the car park. By 19.10 they're gone.
 
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#22
Ditto. That's the first thing that gets me about this actually, the 'Wow, how's they do that?' aspect.
:D
The buses have their engines running in the car park. By 19.10 they're gone.
Is that trait of yours pragmatism? Whatever it is, it means your posts could sometimes belong also in another thread, not so serious!
 
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#23
Is that trait of yours pragmatism? Whatever it is, it means your posts could sometimes belong also in another thread, not so serious!
Oh, good, I'm glad to hear it.:cool:
Things can get way too serious.

Pragmatic? Maybe. Or maybe it's just a healthy dose of realism.;)
My own experience tells me we human beings can have the attention span of crickets.
Which is why I'm totally in awe of someone who would have to track light over a long time to see where it falls and how it moves, and to figure out where it would track on an as-yet-unbuilt wall.
 
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#24
Which is why I'm totally in awe of someone who would have to track light over a long time to see where it falls and how it moves, and to figure out where it would track on an as-yet-unbuilt wall.
I don't think that's quite how it was worked out. I'm currently debating with myself whether I can justify the purchase of this book: Scandalous Error: Calendar Reform and Calendrical Astronomy in Medieval Europe. The author is a specialist scholar for these topics. You can "Look inside" on Amazon.

This was a time when the reckoning of time by means of calendrical cycles was a topic of central importance to learned culture, as impressively documented by the survival of relevant texts and tables in thousands of manuscripts copied before 1500. For centuries prior to the Gregorian reform, astronomers, mathematicians, theologians, and even Church councils had been debating the necessity of improving or amending the existing ecclesiastical calendar. The study examines how the importance of ordering liturgical time by means of a calendar that comprised both solar and lunar components posed a technical-astronomical problem to medieval society and details the often sophisticated ways in which computists and churchmen reacted to this challenge and offers substantial new insights on the place of exact science in medieval culture.

Unfortunately, the book is on the expensive side. These dates in March were of huge importance, in particular 25 March - not only the day of Annunciation, but also the first day of the calendar year, the day of death of Jesus (start of life and end of life on the same day was generally of significance in medieval and earlier narrative), maybe the real reason why Christmas is exactly nine months later on 25 December (so nothing to do with winter solstice, Sol, pagans etc). I actually had no idea before this thread was started although I had been vaguely aware of the thing about when Easter is.

Truly fascinating. And the comment about the busses was funny. I don't really follow that other thread. But I think it has a few more participants than this one. :cool:
 
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#25
Truly fascinating.
It is. I looked at your link and there was this other book mentioned. (one of those 'people also bought this' links). It also looks interesting. But you're right: a 'little' expensive? Wow, you can fly form London to Santiago for that.
start of life and end of life on the same day was generally of significance in medieval and earlier narrative
In Buddhism too. This month everyone celebrates Vesak, which is a 'triple:' the Buddha's birth, death, and enlightenment days - a full moon day, then the same one 35 and again 80 years later.
Only special people can manage that. ;)
I don't really follow that other thread.
You aren't missing anything, except many of us being silly. :cool:
 

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