This morning, June 21 2013, I was at Elizabeth Bay House overlooking Sydney harbour to see the sun rise. The house is closely aligned to the direction of winter solstice sunrise, but unfortunately today cloud delayed the sun’s appearance for half an hour. We then saw some sun shining in through the front door but it just failed to pass right through the axis of the house and out the back door.
The photos here, from last year’s event, give some idea of what can be seen. But the full experience of standing in a chilly hall, peering out at the horizon in anticipation of warm golden sunlight is something else!
Did Alexander Macleay intentionally align the house to the winter solstice sunrise? There is as yet no written evidence to suggest he did, but maybe an undiscovered letter or architects note will enlighten us. After experiencing the event and following a short talk I gave on the solstice and astronomical alignments half the audience was undecided, with the remainder evenly divided between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Perhaps by next year’s solstice we will know more.