If a trip to Cambodia, a must-see destination is Angkor Wat. This is the temple in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site and the set of the movie ‘Tomb Raider’. Angkor Wat is located in the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The town is always crowded by tourists, both local and foreign tourists.
Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple built in the 11th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II. Suryavarman name itself means “Protected By the Sun” and in fact the Temple of Angkor has a unique suitability direction to the sun. King Suryavarman is a descendant of the Khmer people. In the belief of the Khmer, Astronomy regarded as “Sacred Science”. For a Khmer religionists who will build a temple, there are three things that should he controlled, namely: the science of religion, the science of astronomy and calendar calculation.
Angkor Wat is derived from the word “Angkor” (Sanskrit), which means “Country” and “Wat” (Khmer language) which means “Temple”. So, literally Angkor Wat means “Country of the Temple”. In the city of Siem Reap, there is a temple complex, Angkor Wat itself is at the center of the temple complex.
Physically, Angkor Wat is a worship area with a square shape with a length of 1500 meters and 1300 meters wide. On the outside there is a canal that surrounds the temple, visitors who want to worship must enter through the gates of the west connected by bridges.
An American astronomer named Robert Stancel, researching and observing the size and dimensions of the temple which is concerned with astronomy. As a result, Angkor Wat has aligned with the sun and the moon. Cambodian calendar is luni-solar Calendar, the calendar is calculated based on the phases of the moon and the sun’s position. Of course, the observation of the sky object is to be done so that the calendar can be arranged. Apparently, the temple of Angkor Wat it has another function, namely as the observations of the sun and the moon.
Events of interest occur when the sun is at its vernal equinox (right across the equator, the sun in the north sky) when observed from the front of the library entrance gate west, the sun will rise just above the temple tower in the middle. This event is used as a sign by the Khmer Nation to calculate the position of the sun. For the month of observation, we found several positions at the site of the temple which is used as a benchmark for lunar observations. A wonderful thing is it not? Angkor Wat was built not only as a temple alone, but has other functions as sky observation station. In modern parlance, we call astronomy observatory.