Aerial images of Stonehenge have helped archaeologists and anthropologists track the development of Stonehenge as an ancient site of worship or community hub.

Photograph by Central Aerophoto Co., Ltd., courtesy National Geographic

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  • On December 6, 1906, aerial photographs of Stonehenge were shown at the Society of Antiquaries of London, England. A member of the Royal Engineers took the photographs from a hydrogen balloon a few months earlier. These aerial photographs were among of the first to be used in studying archaeological sites.

    The technology used in aerial photography, already 50 years old, was slowly improving. Balloons with hot air or other gases, kites, rockets, and even pigeons were used to carry cameras.

    Once airplanes were widely available, though, aerial photography took off! Aerial photographs are often used in weather forecasting, where meteorologists examine cloud formations to predict temperature or precipitation patterns., Aerial photographs are also used for measuring glaciers’ winter growth and summer melt, identifying spots where forest trees are missing, and planning a city’s growth.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aerial photograph Noun

    picture of part of the Earth's surface, usually taken from an airplane.

    archaeological site Noun

    place where evidence of the past is being studied by scientists.

    balloon Noun

    bag, often made of rubber, filled with air or another gas.

    cloud Noun

    visible mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cloud
    forecast Verb

    to predict, especially the weather.

    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    glacier Noun

    mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: glacier
    meteorologist Noun

    person who studies patterns and changes in Earth's atmosphere.

    precipitation Noun

    all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: precipitation
    predict Verb

    to know the outcome of a situation in advance.

    Stonehenge Noun

    prehistoric monument in Salisbury Plain, England.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    temperature Noun

    degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

    Encyclopedic Entry: temperature
    weather Noun

    state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.

    Encyclopedic Entry: weather