As I was planning activities for the month I realized June 20, 2017 was the summer solstice. Several of the travel books/sites listed summer solstice as an event that is highlighted at several Utah destinations.
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the longest day of the year. It was recommended to visit the nearby museum on this day since there is a solar marker located on the grounds. There are a number of other sites in the area that have special programs like this.
Edge of Cedars Museum
We were super excited to visit the Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding, Utah for summer solstice. The entire property packs a punch! It’s not a huge area, but contains so much. The museum features local art, artifacts of prehistoric and contemporary American Indian cultures, an impressive collection of Anasazi pottery, a 1000 year old kiva, solar sculptures, etc.
The sculpture located here is a replica of prehistoric archaeoastronomy markers. Archaeoastronomy studies the cultural connections with the sun, moon and stars.
These markers chart the yearly migration of the sun. You can determine the time of year, solstices and equinoxes from the movement of light and shadows interacting with the marker. Solar markers were believed to be used as a calendar to calculate timing for planting and harvesting crops, gathering for ceremonies, etc.
As you can see in the picture, carvings in the tallest part of the sculpture cast shadows on the lower portion. We did not actually see the summer solstice combinations of light/shadows. This took place in mid-morning and we visited in the afternoon. If Keith hadn’t been working, we would have planned to see the actual event. We would have seen the movement of a beam of light pass through an opening and bisect the center of a spiral shadow.
Travel = Learning
I never realized all the things I’d learn from traveling. There are so many things that come up on a daily basis that gives me the opportunity to learn something new. Once I started researching and learning more about the solstice, I was fascinated. If you want to learn more, click here for a nice summary and more facts!
The Edge of Cedars Museum also offers various lectures and workshops. Most of the programs appeared to be free and hosted by extremely qualified people in their fields. We took advantage of a couple similar programs at another park later in the year and I cannot give enough praise to the programs available! We were throughly impressed. Learning at it’s absolute best!
Longest Day of the Year
We got back early enough and since it’s the longest day of the year, Keith decided to sneak in a bike ride! He road Mission Road (Hwy 162) from Bluff and went east toward Montezuma Creek. It was another extremely hot day, temperatures well above 100 degrees. Keith rode about 8 miles out and noticed he was already running low on water so he needed to turn back. The high temperature may have cut the ride short, but he enjoyed seeing the landscape from his bike.
What a great way to spend the longest day of the year! We felt like we did a little bit of everything on this day.