Stonehenge app offers virtual solstice tour

LONDON Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:16am EST

1 of 3. Revellers watch as the sun rises at Stonehenge on Salisbury plain in southern England December 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kieran Doherty

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LONDON (Reuters) - For those who couldn't quite make it to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise on Thursday's winter solstice, a new app could offer some consolation by offering a virtual tour around the mysterious stones.

Features include a Google Maps image of the circle of stones giving different views, allowing users to stand within the virtual stones and physically move about the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"It makes for an absorbing immersive experience and allows people to see and hear Stonehenge as it was 5,000 years ago," said Rupert Till, from the University of Huddersfield, who worked on the design.

The app also offers a history of the prehistoric monument in the southwestern English county of Wiltshire.

Some 1,000 people gathered at the site on Thursday morning as the sun rose at around 3 a.m. EST on the shortest day of the year.

The shortest day of the year often falls on December 21 but this year and last year druids and pagans marked the first day of winter on December 22.

That is because the modern calendar of 365 days a year, with an extra day every four years, does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days.

(Reporting by Waqas Qureshi, editing by Paul Casciato)

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