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Random Sites. An introduction

In an attempt to assess the likelihood of the occurrence of 'Chance Alignments', suitable skylines from random sites were assessed.

The results are considered to be of central importance to the current work as they give an indication of the likely frequency of chance alignments; and that based, apparently for the first time, on actual measurements in the field.

The relative frequency of indicated vs chance alignments can then be assessed in a meaningful way and hence a determination of the probable  significance of the indicated alignments found.

Chance Alignments ( Introduction)

It has been regularly stated over the years that given a suitably hilly skyline chance alignments are likely to occur. (e.g. Ruggles 1999, p59 ).  This would be particularly true for the moon given the many significant declinations that it can have and this possibility has been used to support the claim that actual alignments found could be due to chance. Now there is no disputing that chance alignments are almost certain to occur, but it appears that there has been no attempt to use field work to attempt to determine the likelihood or frequency of such occurrences. The advent of digital cameras has facilitated such a study.



Choice of Sites & Methods used

a) Choice of sites:

(i) Two completely random sites were used chosen with no regard to proximity of stones.  They both had a significant amount of visible hilly skyline.

(ii) Five of the lunar sites previously investigated had significant unindicated hilly skylines visible in directions other than that of the alignment.  The normal observing position 2m. behind the stone (opposite to the indicated direction) was taken as the OP for all directions. I.e. for a non-indicated direction we effectively have a Random Site.

(iii) Four  'non-lunar sites' which also had significant clear distant horizons were also investigated.

b) Method:-

The azimuth/elevation of significant horizon features were measured, choosing where possible features about every 5°.   A labeled sketch was made so that these features could be identified later on digital photographs which had been taken.

Grey scale prints of the photographs were made and a grid of azimuth/ elevation drawn on the print.  Significant declinations for sun & moon were then added.  If a chance alignment appeared possible then this was checked on a larger scale print.  If an alignment still seemed possible then a return visit would usually be made to make additional measurements near the suspected alignment.  This was deemed preferable to taking additional  measurements initially.

In all some 1500° of horizon was checked for chance alignments.

c)Summary of results:-

Measurements were made at:-

  1. Random Site 1 **
  2. Random Site 2
  3. Onich **
  4. Achara
  5. Ford **
  6. Torbhlaran
  7. Carnasserie **
  8. 4 non-lunar sites; Craigantairbh **, Taynuilt, Upper Fernoch, Barcaldine Castle Farm

(**= return visit to check possible alignment(s); Bold Italics = Chance alignment found )

See results found for each site in the discussion/analysis which follows.