Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, is spectacular to see at any time of year. During the spring and fall equinox, thousands of visitors arrive to view the stunning show of light, where it appears that a shadowed serpent makes its way down the steps of the great pyramid. This amazing spectacle happened yesterday for those lucky individuals in attendance.
The sunlight casts a serpent-like shape on the north staircase of the four-sided pyramid. The angle of the sun shining off the northwest corner projects a shadow on the north staircase. The mathematically precise cast of light lasts for approximately 5 hours. The sun plays on the stone in a way that makes it appear that the body of a snake is descending the stairs to join the sculpture of a snake's head at the bottom.
The ancient Mayans believed the light came from the heavens and passed through the Sacred Cenote, making all their land fertile. Mayan ruins are found in many locations in Mexico and Central America, but Chichen Itza remains one the most famous and significant. It was considered to be the center of the Mayan civilization and one of its greatest architectural achievements.
Many mysteries remain about the Mayans and how they accomplished their engineering feats. Tourists, historians, astronomers and scientists from all over the world gather to marvel at the equinox celebrations and the remarkable display of wonder and science.
by Cheryl Dennler