Egypt and the Sun

IAC researchers along with engineers of the UPM will document the alignments of the sunrise during the december solstice from several temples in Luxor (Egypt).The astronomical event will be broadcast through the channel in collaboration with the european project STARS4ALL on December, 19th.
On December, 21st -a 16:28 UT- our planet will transit by a singular point in its orbit around the Sun: the December solstice. At this point, the position of the Sun in the sky at noon is the most negative angular distance (-23º 27 ‘ ) respect to celestial equator.

In the December solstice, the sun’s altitude at noon will be minimal -North Hemisphere, winter- solstice or maximum -South Hemisphere, summer solstice- starting the Winter or the Summer, respectively. In addition, the solar position doesn´t change during several days because the solstice (from Latin solstitium derived from sun and sistere “stand still”). In practical terms, the winter solstice corresponds to the shortest duration of the year (Daylights): around this date,coexist the day in which the Sun rises later and the day in which it sunsets soon. The opposite phenomenum happens in the South hemisphere.

The interpretation of this event has varied in different cultures around the world, but most of them recognize it as a period of renewal that involves various celebrations. The December solstice is celebrated today by many cultures. In Peru, it is the Capac Raymi, an Inca ceremony paying homage to sun. In Bolivia, the Willka Kuti, which in Aymara means “around the sun” and the Chileans and Argentines are gathered at the party Mapuche We Tripantu.

Egypt and the Sun

In a series of books and articles published in recent years, members of the Hispano-Egyptian mission for archaeoastronomy of ancient Egypt, led by researcher Juan Antonio Belmonte from the Institute of Astrophysics of Canary Islands (IAC) and Egyptian researcher Mosalam Shaltout, have carried out a serie of extremely interesting and novel discoveries about how the ancient Egyptians could have oriented their sacred buildings. Based on these discoveries,, it has been postulated an original theory about the orientation of temples or other sacred buildings. This can not be interpreted as an isolated event but must situate in the broader context of landscape archeology, understanding the landscape as a place where both earth and heaven play a role.

“The solar god Ra played a significant role in the religion, the society even in politics in the ancient land of the pharaohs.” Indicates Belmonte stating that “in Thebes,ancient capital of the Egyptian empire, exist a spectacular set of monuments which include solsticial alignments, being the Karnak temple the most important of all. ”

We travel to Luxor to document the sunrise alignments from several temples, especially Karnak, where,in addition, more light and shadow effects in various rooms of the temple are produced.

Live from the temple of Karnak in Luxor

This broadcasting is a Light Pollution Initiative (LPI) of the European project STARS4ALL. As a part of this initiative, the channel will broadcast the sunrise, in live, from the Karnak temple.

The appointment is on Tuesday December 19th at 4:15 UT (5:15 CET, 6:15 in Luxor, Egypt).

“After our visits to the Incas’ monumental complex nearby Cuzco, Luxor, as main place of ancient Egypt, was a mandatory visit. We are sure that the solar sunrise from Karnak will be a great show that will offer a great spectacle that we will offer in live” says Miquel Serra-Ricart, IAC astronomer and leader of the expedition.

STARS4ALL is funded by the H2020 Program of the European Union under the grant agreement number 688135. STARS4ALL is composed of 8 institutions (UPM, CEFRIEL, SOTON, ECN, ESCP Europe, IAC, IGB, UCM) from 6 countries.

Three Spanish supercomputing centers: the Centro Extremeño de Tecnologías Avanzadas (CETA-CIEMAT), the Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya (CSUC) and the Institute of Astrophysics of Canary Islands (IAC) will collaborate in the distribution of the broadcasting from the web portal (

Contact IAC

Miquel Serra-Ricart, researcher at IAC, (Egyptian phone number +201143719725)
Educational activities will be available at:
Broadcasting information:
Expedition information:
Timelapse Colossi of Memnon:

Broadcasting channels

Youtube: Luxor (image of the Sun and comments)

The colossi of Memnon are two giant stone statues that represent the pharaoh Amenhotep III located on the west bank of the Nile. As shown on the Image (December 17, 2017) they are perfectly aligned with the solar ortho during the winter solstice. Image J.C. Casado STARS4ALL

Sunrise on the winter solstice in December 2006 in the main axis of the temple of Karnak, seen from the old pier of the sanctuary. The phenomenon would have been much more accurate 4000 years ago when the temple was ranked first (dotted line). Image and Text JA Belmonte.