"Let us unite, let us hold each other tightly, let us merge our hearts, let us create  so long as the warmth of this Earth endures, so long as no earthquakes, cataclysms, icebergs or comets come to destroy us — let us create for Earth a brain and a heart, let us give a human meaning to the superhuman struggle.” Nikos Kazantzakis, Second Duty

Mission scientist Natalie Batalha of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Mission paired these words with this dramatic photo of the constellation Orion as it rises over El Castillo, the central pyramid at Chichén Itzá, one of the great Mayan centers on the Yucatán peninsula, as posted on Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Also known as the Temple of Kukulkan it stands 30 meters tall and 55 meters wide at the base. Built up as a series of square terraces by the pre-Columbian civilization between the 9th and 12th century, the structure can be used as a calendar and is noted for astronomical alignments. In fact, the Mayans were accomplished astronomers and mathematicians, accurately using the cyclic motions of the stars, Sun, Moon, and planets to measure time and construct calendars. Peering through clouds in this night skyscape, stars in the modern constellation Orion the Hunter represented a turtle in the Mayan sky.

(Photo by Stéphane Guisard, D. Flores, B. Pichardo, P. Sánchez, and R. Nafate)

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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