Star Axis (1971 - still in progress) is an architectonic earthwork constructed with the geometry of the stars. A naked eye observatory that offers an intimate experience of how the Earth’s environment extends into the space of the stars.
The approach to building Star Axis involves gathering a variety of star alignments occurring in different time scales and allowing them to form the architecture.
Ross conceived of Star Axis in 1971 and began building in 1976 after a 4-year search through the southwest to find the perfect site—a mesa where one stands at the boundary between earth and sky.
Made with granite, sandstone, bronze, stainless steel, and earth, Star Axis is eleven stories high and about a tenth of a mile across.
The five elements of Star Axis:
The Solar Pyramid marks the daily and seasonal movements of the sun across the Shadow Field. From inside the Hour Chamber you can view one hour of the earth’s rotation, and from the Equatorial Chamber you can observe the stars that travel directly above the earth’s equator.
The Star Tunnel is the central element of Star Axis. It frames our north star, Polaris. The Star Tunnel is precisely aligned with the earth’s axis. Within the Star Tunnel a stairway rises 10 stories toward a circular opening at the top that frames all of the orbits of Polaris throughout the ages. As you climb the stairway toward the circular opening you see larger and larger views of the sky. The view from each stair frames an orbit of Polaris for a particular time in the 26,ooo year cycle called precession.
The smallest orbit of Polaris, viewed from the bottom stair, is about the size of a dime held at arms length. The largest orbit of Polaris, viewed from the top stair, encompasses your entire field of vision.