Juan Antonio Belmonte

Public Talk

 «Astronomía, Paisaje y Patrimonio Mundial: de Gran Canaria a Chankillo pasando por Menorca» (in Spanish)» 

Juan Belmonte (Research Professor Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias).
Chair: Silvia Torres.

Juan Antonio Belmonte is Research Professor at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain).  Trained as a stellar physicists with a PhD in Asteroseismology, he recently edited the Handbook of Exoplanets for Springer. Carlos Jaschek Award in Cultural Astronomy, he is a worldwide reknown specialist in this discipline with more than a hundred papers and several books on the topic. He is now the vice-President of IAU CC4 on «Wolrd Heritage and astronomy».

 THURSDAY – December 10
21:00 – 22:00 UTC

Recorded from live stream >>

Youtube channel >>



In Honolulu, in 2015, the IAU created the new Commission CC4, World Heritage and Astronomy; as a finishing touch to the initiative: Astronomy and World Heritage; promoted and led by UNESCO and the IAU itself as a result of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.
Astronomy, or the observation of the sky, in particular through the intimate relationship between landscape and clouds, has always played a fundamental role in enriching the cultural heritage of the peoples of the Earth. This relationship could be manifested, for practical purposes, in the control of time, through the creation of a calendar, or for symbolic purposes, where there is an intimate relationship with metaphysics and a certain connection with power. We must wait for the Renaissance so that the scientific character of astronomy was already decisive, although there were small scraps of hope in the Hellenistic period.
This relationship with culture was reflected in the world of ideas, and as such in texts since ancient Sumeria, but it was also reflected in the art of almost all civilizations that have been in the world. Rock art and architecture are two of the most beautiful manifestations of this interaction, as a true reflection of the culture that created them.
World Heritage sites such as Easter Island or the pyramids and temples of ancient Egypt are paradigmatic, although this astronomical heritage is not part of that recognition. Stonehenge was the exception.
However, in the last decade initiatives have been promoted so that certain places on the planet are recognized as World Heritage thanks, among other factors, to astronomy and the relationship between landscape and skyscape. We are going to visit three of them in more detail, which I know well: a cultural landscape of the Amazigh culture on the peaks of the island of Gran Canaria, an exceptional and unique monument of the Andean cultures on the Peruvian coast: Chankillo, and a well series of the Cyclopean tradition in the Mediterranean, the Talayotic Menorca. Each of them is a mirror of the worldview of its builders.