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Vikings could have steered by polarized light

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Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Dragon on Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:00 pm

The Vikings are said to have been able to navigate with the aid of "sunstones" that allowed them to see the sun on cloudy or foggy days. Now scientists in Hungary and Sweden say the sunstones could have been polarizing crystals.

The Vikings were the dominant seafaring explorers of much of Northern Europe and Britain from around 900 to 1200 AD. They were able to navigate their way around the thousands of kilometers of the north Atlantic with great skill and without the help of the magnetic compass, which was not then known in Europe. In the long days of summer at high latitudes they would also have had limited or no views of the stars to help them navigate.

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Re: Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Dragon on Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:04 pm

The sunstone (Icelandic: sólarsteinn) is a type of mineral attested in several 13th–14th century written sources in Iceland, one of which describes its use to locate the sun in a completely overcast sky. Sunstones are also mentioned in the inventories of several churches and one monastery in 14th–15th century Iceland.

A theory exists that the sunstone had polarizing attributes and was used as a navigation instrument by seafarers in the Viking Age. A stone found in 2013 off Alderney, in the wreck of a 16th-century warship, may lend evidence of the existence of sunstones as navigational devices.

One medieval source in Iceland, "Rauðúlfs þáttr", mentions the sunstone as a mineral by means of which the sun could be located in an overcast and snowy sky by holding it up and noting where it emitted, reflected or transmitted light.

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Re: Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Dragon on Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:06 pm


By ArniEin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Iceland spar, possibly the Icelandic medieval sunstone used to locate the sun in the sky when obstructed from view.

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Re: Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Dragon on Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:09 pm



Picture of sunstone by John Bailey

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Re: Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Dragon on Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:11 pm


By Astynax - Own work, Public Domain,

Various gem colors of Oregon sunstone.

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Re: Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Dragon on Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:15 pm



Three minerals from Scandinavia that may be the legendary Sunstones of the Norse navigators. Demonstration of the double refraction of Iceland spar (calcite), splitting polarized light in two directions.

According to the Norse sagas the Viking navigators sometimes used so called "Sunstones" (old N.'Solarsteinn') to find the position of the Sun in cloudy weather. .

 
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Re: Vikings could have steered by polarized light

Post by Cloud on Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:02 pm

Thanks for sharing Dragon


Dan loves gemstones, been giving them to him since he was little so he enjoyed learning about this. He says he wondered if there was a sun stone because he knows about moonstone.


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