"You have to remember this is an artwork, not a scientific work....It's really about feeling your connection with the space and the stars and these different alignments." Charles Ross

How and why do humans look at the sky, stars, and sun, and how do we try to make sense of what we see? On a small mesa in northern New Mexico where the Sangre de Cristo Mountains meet the eastern plains, artist Charles Ross is creating an art installation that is also a star observatory. This major earthwork has two main elements: the Star Tunnel, which allows you to walk through the entire history of the earth's changing alignment to our North Star, Polaris; and the Solar Pyramid, where one can visually experience an hour of the earth's rotation. In November 2003, Exploratorium staff members visited Charles Ross's work-in-progress, Star Axis. We explored our perceptions of time, how time relates to celestial activity, and our connection to exploring the heavens.

Take a virtual tour of Star Axis with Charles Ross and the Exploratorium's Paul Doherty.

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Solar Pyramid
and Hour Chamber
  Star Tunnel   Equatorial Chamber
See Polaris from various perspectives within the Hour Chamber.   View the Bowl and Star Tunnel under construction. Look for Polaris centered at the apex of the tunnel at night.   View an hour's time lapse video of Mars as it traverses the top of the Equatorial Chamber.

Visit Charles Ross's Star Axis Web site
Explore Pinhole Investigations of light
Investigate related Exploratorium activities about light from our Science Snacks
Try making your own pictures from light (from Science Explorer, one of our hands-on books of activities for kids)



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