Astronomical Clock of Lyon


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Astronomical Clock - Cathédral St. Jean

The 9 metre tall clock is installed in the cathedral of Lyon. An astrolabe indicates the date and position of the moon, sun, and earth, as well as the stars. The first documentary evidence of an astronomical clock in the cathedral is from 1383 but this was destroyed in 1562. In 1661 it was reconstructed by Guillaume Nourrisson. During the French Revolution, all royal insignia was removed. The last restoration in 1954 reset the clock’s perpetual calendar of 66 years. It will be accurate until 2019.

The central tower octagon supports several automated figures. After the angel on the left turns the hourglass, an angel on the right keeps the time for the three angels who strike bells to sound the hymn of Saint Jean-Baptiste. The Virgin Mary kneels in a chapel, and turns to the Angel Gabriel as he opens the chapel door, while a dove descends, representing the Holy Spirit. A Swiss Guard rotates around the dome. Movement stops at the sounding of the hour.

In a western niche, a statue rotates at midnight. On Sunday, it is Jesus resurrected; Monday: his death; Tuesday: St. John the Baptist; Wednesday: St. Stephen (patron saint of the ancient basilica) holding the palm of martyrs; Thursday: a child with chalice and host; Friday: a child with the symbols of crucifixion; on Saturday: the Virgin Mary.


All Alone in the Night


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1. North-to-south down the western coast of North and South America.
2. North-to-south over Florida, the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands.
3. South-East Asia, approaching the Philippine Sea
4. Western Europe, from France through Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Middle East.
5. Aurora Australis, over the Indian Ocean, approaching Australia
6. Aurora Australis, over the Indian Ocean.
7. Aurora Australis, unknown location in the Southern Hemisphere.

Explanation from NASA: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth’s thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the frame edges. The ominous wave of approaching brightness at the end of each sequence is just the dawn of the sunlit half of Earth, a dawn that occurs every 90 minutes.

Astronomy in the Church: The Clementine Sundial in Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome


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S. Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri-sundial - 00

Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) ordered Francesco Bianchini (1662-1729) to build a Meridian Line. Bianchini was the Secretary of the Commission for the Calendar. He chose the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli because of the stability of its roman walls and foundations and its suitable dimension. The Line built by Giandomenico Cassini (1625-1712) in 1655 in San Petronio, Bologna , was the model for Bianchini, who improved it by allowing the observation of stellar transits.

Pope Clement XI inaugurated the Great Sundial on October 6, 1702 , the annual
Feast of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order, whose statue is in the entrance of the Church. Carthusian monks ruled this Basilica for three centuries until 1884.

S. Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri-sundial - 01

It is not the shadow which shows the time, but the light. At the astronomical noon a sunbeam, entering the church from a coat of arms near the ceiling, crosses a meridian line drawn on the floor. The intersection point changes according to the various periods of the year; these are indicated by inscriptions and by inlays showing the signs of the zodiac and the stars of the related constellation. The sundial allows also the calculation of Easter and the position of the Pole-star.

S. Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri-sundial - 02 /


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