The Living Astronomy and People of the Mayan World Today: Engaging Hispanic Populations in Science
From long ago, the Maya civilizations of Mesoamerica have been keenly attuned to the cycles of nature. The Maya have always been careful observers, and more than a thousand years ago, they recorded the motion of the planets, the Sun, and the Moon, and predicted eclipses. These observations were used to create a complex calendar to organize the events of their world. The Maya built great cities containing buildings aligned with the Sun, Moon, and the stars to mark important times of the year. Many astronomical traditions are still practiced today by the Maya of the Yucat´an peninsula, Southern states in M´exico, and other areas in Mesoamerica. Traditional farming communities time the cultivation of corn by observing the sky. The living culture of the Mayan people in the Yucatan integrates science and astronomy with every other aspect of their culture. Yucatec Maya, the language spoken by more than 1 million people in the Yucat´an today, still carries through oral histories the ancient knowledge of nature. Our hope is that you’ll increase your interest and knowledge of the Mayan people and of the enduring wisdom reflected in the daily lives of Mayan families. We present the results of education and public outreach efforts that position astronomy within its cultural context as an effective means of capturing the interest and enabling authentic participation of under-represented populations in science.