In Florence to “gaze at the stars”

Since 1475, in the Cathedral of Florence, on the occasion of the summer solstice, a suggestive and out of the ordinary show has taken place which attracts hundreds of curious visitors: the passage of the Sun in the gnomon of Santa Maria del Fiore, which with its 90 meters high is the largest in the world.

The summer solstice, which marks the start of summer in our hemisphere, will fall on June 20 at 8.51pm this year, creating the longest day of the year. On this date the Sun will rise at 5.36am and set at 8.51pm, giving us 15 hours and 15 minutes of light.

Like every summer, we will go to “gaze at the stars” and make wishes, in particular on June 16th, when three meteor showers will reach peak visibility, and then on June 17th, 19th and 20th.

Other astronomical instruments are scattered throughout Florence, such as those on the facade of Santa Maria Novella which serve to determine the exact day of the spring equinox (the day on which night and day have the same duration). It was Cosimo de’ Medici who ordered the Dominican friar Ignazio Danti to build the instrument, an armlet, made up of two bronze circles 1.30 cm in diameter, perfectly perpendicular to each other.

The vertical circle (or meridian) has the task of indicating the exact moment of solar noon and will project the shadow of a vertical rectangle on the facade. At the same time the horizontal circle (called equatorial) will project a shadow in the shape of a horizontal rectangle. So on the day of the equinox, a cross-shaped shadow will appear on the facade at noon.

Speaking of stars and astronomical instruments, in Florence we immediately think of our great fellow citizen: Margherita Hack. She herself said: “I was born on 12 June 1922 in Florence, and by chance the street where I was born was called via Centostelle” (Hundredstars road)… Nome nomen?

Margherita Hack, who began her studies on sunspots in 1946 in Florence, at the Arcetri observatory, was an extraordinary figure: a great astrophysicist, known for her research on pulsating stars, she was a scientific communicator of enormous impact , and was the first woman to direct an Astronomical Observatory in Italy, that of Trieste, from 1964 until 1987.

RAI (Italian channel television) celebrated her with the drama “Margherita delle Stelle” (Margherita of the stars) highlighting her determined and free character and the values ​​of freedom and justice that her parents passed on to her, or rather, “instilled” in her as she said .

Margherita, who has been a vegetarian for most of her life, would not have come to us to eat steak, but given the choice of many meat-free dishes, she came to Zà Zà… as demonstrated by a historic photo with her and the ‘ Mr. Zà Zà’, Stefano Bondi!

Margherita Hack Zà Zà