Solstice on the Interwebs

from video of Stonehenge Midsummer Sunrise Simulation

Well, it will be summer solstice on Monday and where do you plan to be to see it in? Oh, we know you would like to be at Stonehenge, just you and a few good friends, but what if you can’t get there or if you just don’t care to share it with the circus that takes place there every year? As with everything but dinner and the loo, the internet has the answer! Why not visit Stonehenge virtually or in a video?

Surprisingly, we haven’t been able to find a virtual Stonehenge with a real-time summer sunrise simulation. Neither have we found a video showing the midsummer sun rising at Stonehenge itself, but that is less surprising. If the experience of those gathering there over the years is a guide, then perhaps Stonehenge was built to observe rain and cloud cover rather than the sun at all!

It burns us a little to have to admit that the best-known virtual Stonehenge we’ve found is that on the Heritage Key site. Clonehenge had an unpleasant run-in with them a while back and it left a bitter taste. Still, credit where it is due! You can see a video of their virtual Stonehenge here. (Sorry about that fellow’s accent. There should be a computer application that replaces the voice of anyone talking about Stonehenge with that of David Tenant in best Doctor form!) To access the real virtual Heritage Key Stonehenge, though, you have to sign up at the Heritage Key website.

When you do, Prad Patel, a pleasant member of the staff there tells us: “Stonehenge Virtual always has a summer solstice going on. Unfortunately we can’t make a sunrise happen in real time (yet!) but we’re planning to have a party [for summer solstice] regardless! Have a happy Solstice!” We wish we’d dealt with him the first time!

There is a Stonehenge midsummer sunrise simulation by someone else here.  And a brilliant flythrough of the Stonehenge landscape at this link. Still another video, here, takes us through the monument. There are any number of virtual Stonehenges, but no webcams, unless you count the notorious Dead Bunny Cam!

We hope that eventually virtual models will more faithfully reproduce the true shapes of the stones. Laser scans of some of the stones are already available. When completed they will allow virtual builders to get closer to simulating the true experience. Meanwhile, here’s a sample of what they have so far.

As long as we’re listing, here’s another view of Stonehenge from the inside, presented by You need to be running Quicktime, but we like being able to control it, moving up and down, fast and slow. Of course that one’s not virtual but camera-generated, but it’s still a good substitute for the arm chair, or more likely couch, solstice observer. Beat your drum or sacrifice your virgin in the privacy of your own home!

But wait, we hear you say, don’t end this post without showing us the worst Stonehenge video you found! It’s funny you should ask. We have just the thing! The title is Second Life–Spirit Stonehenge, and we can only guess that it is an amalgam of every even remotely Stonehenge-ish thing on SL. We won’t describe it in detail, just do try to hang in there to see Gollum and a dinosaur near the end. Wow!

There are more, plenty more, videos and simulations of Stonehenge out there. Stonehenge is the Lady Gaga, the Justin Bieber of megaliths. We’re almost certain that the famous Pete Glastonbury did a brilliant panorama from inside Stonehenge and we hope he will give us a link to it in the comments.*

But this post is way too long already and you have better things to do this midsummer than to sit here reading Clonehenge. So we part with a link to a lovely still of an anomalous midsummer sunrise, one in which the sun was visible from that old grey pile of rocks. Scroll down and there is a troupe of druids. They must have had some powerful bleach back there in prehistory!

We at Clonehenge wish you a wonderful solstice and a beautiful summer. Remember, if you want to be at Stonehenge, you can always make your own. Happy henging!

*Turns out that British Tours one is his.

Take Your Better-Looking Avatar to Stonehenge Second Life

Built in Second Life by Ewan Haggarty, sent to us by Pete Glastonbury

We don’t know much about Second Life. We haven’t figured out how to do something worthwhile with our first life, and we’re pretty sure spending more time on line than we already do isn’t the answer. But of course most people have their act together much better than we do, so for them having a second, virtual, life is an option. It’s probably a relief to enter a place away from routines and mundane concerns.

Second Life (Wikipedia explanation here) has all kinds of places to go, and people can build things there. So naturally there are Stonehenges. We mentioned a couple when we did a post on virtual Stonehenges before. As far as we know, each one is, in its context, a real Stonehenge, not a replica, although–who knows!–there may be virtual Stonehenge replicas there, too. If you know of any, do not hesitate to let us know!

Here’s a link to another, quite accurate Stonehenge made for Second Life. Here’s another Second Life Stonehenge on Flickr. We confess this is all mind boggling to us. We have this strange feeling that all these Stonehenges will have to come to blows someday like male mountain goats vying for the harem. We can see it now, all those huge stones hurling themselves at one another, trying to establish which is the real Stonehenge. When that happens, Second Lifers, get pictures!

Even with a virtual henge we can do what we do. Let’s see: bluestones? Check. Aubrey holes? Check. Sorta-kinda the ditch and bank. Half check. The stones are the wrong proportions and shapes, of course, but in the right places and anyway it’s catchy and you can dance to it. We’ll give it 7½ druids. (See how we’re just ignoring the floating orb, the small pyramid and the wasp-ish thing with breasts? We’re good at what we do! Do not try this at home!)

Who builds these Stonehenges in Second Life? Astronomers? Engineers? Druids? We’d be curious to know. But we’re glad to know that people take the things that inspire and awe them with them wherever they go!


Stonehenge in Other Worlds


from a discussion of a virtual world development platform

With our April Fool’s Day post out of the way, we arrive at our 150th post. Unremarkable to you, perhaps, but when we started this folly we doubted we would make it to 40 before running out of replicas. Ha! And may we repeat, ha! At any rate, today we would like to address a different kind of Stonehenge replica than usual, the replica in a virtual world.

2382101391_7c8a794ef6In Second Life, for example, we are told there is a Stonehenge near a castle (thumbnail at left by Jocgart). In other virtual worlds there are other virtual Stonehenges. A game called Hellgate: London had a Stonehenge with a different, darker look as you see in the photo below,  from the blog Pumping Irony.

hgl-stonehenge-0011Interesting how the virtual replicas vary just as the real ones do, in color, shapes of and numbers of stones, the condition of the Stonehenge according to age. (Click on the photo at left or the thumbnails to see a larger version and its posting page.)

Below is another, which  may also be from Second Life, photo by Toady. These virtual Stonehenges may capture, even better tha384448063_f62e7e9eccn real life replicas, meanings that Stonehenge has for people, its place in our psyches, individual and collective. Place of magic, place of battle, place of power, place of joy. It seems that as we recreate Stonehenge, we recreate some hidden powerful place in our imaginations, and no world we create can be complete without it!