A few summers ago, I worked on a large-scale project with my previous professor Richard Saxton and his art collective M12. Part stonehenge, part ode to rural aesthetics, The Last Chance Module Array is a product of many sweltering summer hours from a group of devoted artists and designers in Byers, CO.
There were many initial design iterations, and the group finally settled on a simple but powerfully designed arrangement. The whole complex is aligned with the sun at the summer and winter solstice, such that you get the view below.
At first, this solar alignment issue seemed very tricky. How to accurately tell where the sun will be on the horizon, and then align everything to that? We thought of compasses, software, etc. but nothing seemed to give an accurate answer that we could actually apply in the field.
Finally, a simple solution was found–we were already close to the summer solstice, the sun won’t be more than a few degrees off its desired location at sundown. Let’s make like Eratosthenes and work with some sticks and strings and take some measurements in the field.
We took a very large length of string, and just as the sun was setting, we set two stakes on the site that pointed directly towards the sun. As you can see from above, the method worked well!