Fog impacts first day of solstice at Newgrange with two more live streams planned

Fog impacts first day of solstice at Newgrange with two more live streams planned

HEAVY FOG and overcast conditions led to disappointment for viewers on the first day of the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Co Meath.

Met Éireann issued a yellow weather warning for the whole of the State until 11am on Monday morning, however two more live streams are planned for 21 and 22 December at 8.45am UTC (3.45am New York time).

The Winter Solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or 22, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn.

At sunrise on the shortest day of the year, for 17 minutes, direct sunlight can enter the Newgrange monument, not through the doorway, but through the specially contrived small opening above the entrance known as the ‘roof box’, to illuminate the Chamber.

Originally re-discovered by Professor Michael J. O'Kelly in 1967, other researchers have, since then validated O'Kelly's interpretation, giving it scientific credibility and meaning.

Analysis of high-resolution imagery taken during last year’s research programme adds to the convincing body of evidence that the solar illumination of the tomb was intentional.

Due to the pandemic and restrictions, the lottery draw for attendance at Newgrange was cancelled once again this year as the chamber of the Passage Tomb remains closed to the public due to ongoing health restrictions.

Commenting on the announcement of the Solstice live-streaming last week, Patrick O’Donovan, T.D, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, said:

"I understand the disappointment of the public with the closure of the tomb chamber during the pandemic, especially at this significant time of the year, but we have to be mindful of the Government Guidelines in relation to COVID-19 and the health and safety of our visitors at all times.

"While the chamber cannot be accessed, it is great that the OPW is able once more to broadcast the Winter Solstice Sunrise live over three days to the four corners of the world, allowing us all to gather and watch the passing of the longest night of the year and to welcome the new year of the Solar Calendar.

"Watching the light creep into the five-thousand-year-old passage tomb in real time is a moving event that has the power to fill us both with wonder at the ancient architects’ ingenuity and with hope for the future."

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said:

"The solstice has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth and renewal as we look forward to the prospect of brighter days ahead. I pay tribute to our National Monuments Service and OPW colleagues for their work to make sure we end another year with a ray of hope.

"As we continue our Newgrange Solstice Research Project I am very excited to learn more about how the dawn sun on the shortest days of the year interacts with this remarkable monument and how it may have engaged and enthralled our ancestors over five thousand years ago."

View this morning's live stream here, and tune in for tomorrow and Wednesday's live stream on or