Stonehenge Stargazing

Since September 2020, we have been working with young people from the local Army Welfare Service, on a project that explores Stonehenge, its history and its relationship to the sun, stars and sky.

Stonehenge sunset

Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous ancient monuments and is visited by people from all over the world. It leads us to ask many questions – what is Stonehenge and why was it built? Why did the Neolithic people position the stones in such a specific shape and pattern? What was it used for? The sun, sky and stars help us to unlock some of these questions, and uncover the mysteries of Stonehenge.

Humans have always been fascinated by the stars and the sky, trying to find meaning to the universe and our place in it. Stonehenge shows that Neolithic people also put importance on objects in the sky. Today, we explore the sky by stargazing and using science to understand the secrets of our universe.

Moon

In this project, we are working with a group of young people from the Army Welfare Service, who live very locally to Stonehenge. Our first group recently took part in three sessions, where we discovered both how the Neolithic people viewed the sky and what we know today by chatting to an English Heritage historian and a local astronomer.  We visited the stones and found out about their relationship to the sun’s path across the sky. And then, most excitingly of all, we had the incredible opportunity to visit the stones at night, enter the stone circle and stargaze from this unique setting. This experience was truly awe-inspiring, where we walked amongst the stones and learned about the wonders of the night sky, using binoculars, a telescope and simply our eyes.

Night sky with constellation patterns

Over the next few months we’ll be continuing these sessions with local young people, and we’ll also be hosting a digital Stonehenge Stargazing event, bringing Stonehenge and the stars to other young people from AWS who live further away so may not have the opportunity to visit Stonehenge in person. We’ll be exploring the stones and the stars from our homes, from going on a virtual tour of Stonehenge to drawing constellations and getting tips on how to find them in the sky.