Sunrise alignment on the eve of the Equinox, 22nd September 2006.
to see a sequence of photos from the Autumn equinox in 2005.
Half six in the morning, Cairn T on top of Carnbane East in near darkness.
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The sun is due to rise at 7.09am. The sky is clear to the north, south and west, however a heavy bank of cloud to the east rolls in, quickly obscuring the horizon.
Cairn V. Almost twenty minutes after sunrise, heavy winds have cleared the sky and some sunlight has begun to filter through.
High winds and fast moving cloud mean that there is only periodic direct sunlight, the illumination of the backstone should have begun almost twenty minutes ago but finally at 7.35am the wait is over and its time to go inside the chamber.
Hazy sunshine streams down the short passage, the beam hitting the backstone is now shaped by the orthostats and lintel in the passage and also the sill stone in the foreground. This arrangement creates a roughly square beam of light that first frames a circular design commonly called a 'sun symbol' on the upper left of the backstone in the rear chamber before widening and elongating to illuminate the whole stone before shrinking again to frame a very similar design on the lower left hand side of the same stone.
The wispy cloud diffuses the sunlight, the whole of the rear chamber is lit up by a golden glow.
The view towards Patrickstown Hill to the east and Co. Meath far below, the sun is emerging from the clouds.
As the cloud passes, the sunlight is strongly focused on the backstones carvings. By this time the beam has begun to shrink and move lower, onto the sill stone of the rear chamber.
The beam of light is surprisingly strong, reflected light causing the whole passage and chamber to glow. After spending time in the gloom of the cairn, the effect is very dramatic.
The illumination on the backstone is by now reaching its final stage, framing the 'sun symbol' mentioned above perfectly for a few minutes.
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