An alignment of a constructed or natural feature with the celestial
movement of the sun, moon, or stars, or with cardinal directions.
A field of scientific research that studies the astronomy of ancient
The four directions—north, south, east, and west.
Circular, water-filled sinkholes. Cenotes provided water for drinking
and agriculture. However, some, like the Sacred Cenote at Chichén
Itzá, were likely ceremonial centers; human sacrifices may
have been made there.
A Mayan rain god. Long, hook-nosed masks showing Chac appear on
many Chichén Itzá structures.
Reclining stone figures grasping platelike receptacles, found throughout
Chichén Itzá. Chacmools may have been used to receive
the hearts of people who were sacrificed.
Two midpoints in the sun’s yearly cycle. In the Northern Hemisphere,
the vernal (spring) equinox occurs around March 21, the autumnal
(fall) equinox around September 23. These are the days in the year
when the hours of daylight and nighttime are equal.
A merchant and warrior people who gave Chichén Itzá
its present name.
The feathered serpent god; a representation of him appears on the
steps of El Castillo during the spring and fall equinoxes.
Native people of southern Mexico and Central America.
A culture from the Mexican Gulf Coast. The Maya used their mathematical
knowledge along with celestial observations to finesse a calendar
created by the Olmec.
A distinct style of architecture, named for the hilly region in
the southwestern Yucatan.
The Aztec name for Kukulkán, the feathered serpent deity
found at Chichén Itzá who is one of the most important
figures of Mesoamerica.
The day of the year when the sun reaches its extreme northerly or
southerly point. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice
happens near June 21, when the sun is at its northern extreme; the
winter solstice occurs near December 21, when the sun is at its
synodic period of Venus
The synodic period is the time between successive returns of a planet
to the same position in the sky, as seen from earth. The synodic
period of Venus is 584 days.
A warlike people based in northern Mexico, who began to dominate
Central America around AD 950.
state and peninsula Yucatán
is a state and a peninsula in Mexico; both are home to Chichén
An imaginary point directly overhead.
The path the sun takes from sunrise, through the zenith, to sunset.
The sun makes a zenith passage twice per year, in tropical latitudes