One of 6 thematic observation stations of the astro nature trail "De Sternkieker" in the Mecklenburger ParkLand Star Park.
The lush green spaces and numerous manor houses in Mecklenburg's ParkLand between the Baltic Coast and the Lake District fascinate walkers, cyclists and stargazers. Here, the firmament shines in unusual clarity in the particularly dark night sky. Six thematic observation stations in publicly accessible estate parks form the astro nature trail "De Sternkieker", it invites you to walk along the Milky Way.
"De Sternkieker", a little man lasered in steel with a telescope pointing to the sky, shows the way to the observation station at the access road and takes the guests by the hand when it comes to shedding light on the darkness of some celestial stories. Guests can observe the starry night sky with binoculars or a telescope on a couch for 2 people at each station. During the day, the stations invite visitors to observe nature in the historic parks under old giant trees, which overshadow lively rippling watercourses, which lead across flowering park meadows, past some ponds with mirror images of the manor houses to reforested orchards, which offer their fruits to visitors for tasting in summer and autumn.
A replica of the famous Nebra Sky Disk is installed in the Dalwitz Manor Park.
The Nebra Sky Disk is a masterpiece of early astronomers, about 4000 years old and was found in 1999 on the Mittelberg, near the town of Nebra in Saxony-Anhalt. So it does not come from Dalwitz. On it astronomical and religious symbols form the oldest sky representation of this kind known so far. The makers of this disc were possibly part of the culture of Central Germany itself, which came to an end about 3250 years ago in the Battle of the Nations in the Tollensetal. We call this the Aunjetitz culture.
In many ancient cultures it was known early on that a calendar based on the position of the sun and the phases of the moon cannot work. The resulting inaccuracies we compensate today with leap years. This was apparently already known to the people of the Middle Mountain (in today's Saxony-Anhalt) and they were able to determine the leap months with the help of the sky disk. One could interpret the disc as a Bronze Age calendar work.
Over generations the sky disk was changed again and again and received additional functions. In its original state it showed only astronomical objects (moon and Pleiades). It encoded a switching rule with the help of which the lunar and solar year could be synchronized. It was followed by the horizon arcs, which showed the positions of the sunrise and sunset points during the solstices. Their angular length is 82°, which is calibrated for use at the latitude of central Germany.
The barque at the bottom of the disc has no known function and could only indicate the east direction and symbolize the course of the celestial bodies.
It can be assumed that the knowledge on the Nebra Sky Disk comes from all over Europe and the Orient, as many details are found in sources elsewhere.
The moon, which is to be seen on the sky disk, corresponds to a moon which is to be seen 4.5 days after new moon in the sky. In an old cuneiform text from Babylonia (from the 7th to the 3rd century BC) exactly such a moon is described:
In the first month of the year; in the spring month Nissan, one should pay attention to the crescent moon and the Pleiades, it says. Why? Because this could provide information about the necessity of a leap year. This rule was probably already encoded 1000 years before on the sky disk. It was a template in a society without writing, with which the real moon in the sky could be compared year by year, in order to check whether it is already time for a leap year.
Since the discovery of the sky disk of Nebra one may see our ancestors in another light. One credits them with astronomical knowledge. The Aunjetitz culture does not seem to have developed its own writing. At least no evidence of it has been found until today. This separates this culture from the advanced civilizations of that time.
The Nebra Sky Disk testifies that profound astronomical knowledge was already known in the Bronze Age throughout Europe and the Near East. It is no longer necessary to consider the Orient as the only cradle of our astronomy.
At the time when the Nebra Sky Disk was buried, Central Europe was in a state of upheaval. A culture passed away without provable reasons. It may be assumed that the sky disk was buried as a kind of time capsule to preserve the astronomical knowledge of a whole culture for later generations. In Dalwitz, an interpreted version of this disk is to be erected as a reminder of the continuous interest in astronomical events in our region.
A sky walk in small steps "over the huge star disk".
A sky walk is possible without much effort. You just have to put your head in the neck and let your eyes wander over the firmament. In Dalwitz, the astronomical observation station, for people who get dizzy quickly, offers comfortable wooden loungers for sky watching.
"All beginnings are difficult," says a popular proverb. So it can be with a sky walk. The star chart shows the summer starry sky with its many near-polar constellations - the circumpolar constellations. Also you can see the summer constellations, which form a fictive triangle of their main stars. If you want to find your way around, you have to find the Big Dipper first. Since often only the rear part, the so-called Big Dipper, is well visible, this is often confused by laymen with a combination of Pegasus and Andromeda. Then it helps to check if the three drawbar stars of the chariot are bent downwards (to the horizon). If they are, it is the Big Dipper. Now the sky walk can begin.
The drawbar stars of the Big Dipper are a good test for the eye. The middle drawbar star is actually a double star. It is the stars Alkor and Mizar. If we now follow the curvature of the drawbar, we come to the main star, Arcturus, of the Bear Keeper constellation. Then we extend our arc further to find the constellation of Virgo. In doing so, we will notice Spica, the brightest star in Virgo.
Similarly, we work out the position of Polaris, the cardinal points and find the constellation of Cassiopeia. According to the season, there are other great routes.