Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Notes From My Knapsack 11-13-05
Jeff Gill

A String of Pearls

Way back when, over a year ago when plans began to celebrate the remarkable astronomy of the Newark Earthworks in Fall 2005, an image came to mind.
Not just one big huge "do," which couldn’t have been the case 2000 years ago when the Octagon and Great Circle and other elements of the vast complex we call the Newark Earthworks was built, since those Native American ancestral people lived all across the Ohio River drainage and traveled on foot.
Add to that the uncertainty of Ohio skies then and now, and any one of the 28-day recurring moonrises along the northernmost angle might be worth a full celebration or could be a foggy night to take the moonrise on faith: faith in the ancient builder’s accuracy, still so impressive today.
So our plans were for a series of events and happenings from August to November, with three best viewing weekends as the "big beads" on a necklace of celebration, and other little accents strung between. The last big bead was and is Saturday, Nov. 19, with a public symposium on the Newark Earthworks at OSU-N in the Reese Center from 9 am to 4 pm, and planetarium shows at 5 and 6 pm in the Olin Science Center at Denison University.
All that is still on, thanks to the Ohio Archaeological Council which has planned the event and aimed the talks through the day (nearly a dozen) at the general public, not just fellow archaeologists. But this last major event was tied to the last, best northernmost moonrise at a weekend, reasonable hour.
Friday, Nov. 18, the nearly full moon rises as far north as you’ll ever see it in the sky, lifting clear of the eastern horizon at 6:56 pm, about an hour after dark. The Octagon site, which encodes the key alignment that started a new period of awareness and study of this area, is tied up with a recently scheduled event that the organizers of the Moonrise programs chose not to compete with.
So what will happen on Friday night, as you get home from work or close a week of school, is that you are invited to a further portion of the amazing Newark Earthworks in the City of Heath. Mayor Dan Dupps and the planning committee welcome one and all to bundle up, bring your lawn chairs and blankets, and drive 30th St. to the turn for Geller Park.
Starting at 6:00 pm on the 18th, programming and some ceremony will precede the chance to view the moon rising just before 7 pm, looking from Memorial Hill at a point exactly halfway between the Great Circle and Octagon. This hillside, sloping up from the parking area around the ball diamonds, offers a vantage point that is both spectacular, and possibly part of the original set of viewing points that led ancient Native Americans to construct the Newark Earthworks where they did.
For more about the geometry and studies that have led the planning committee to use this site as part of our final public event of the year, go to www.octagonmoonrise.org for much, much more detail. The conference the next day and the planetarium shows are part of an exciting weekend that draws to a close the "string of pearls" which have shown our region what a treasure is right around us.
Come on out and join the excitement…and huddle close for warmth!

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he’s enjoyed working on these Moonrise events the last year, and his wife looks forward to getting her basement back soon: commiserate with her through disciple@voyager.net.

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