Tales of the Maya Skies





40 minutes

Grade Level

High School

Age Range

12+ years


history, night sky, ancient astronomy



Immerse yourself in the beauty of Chichén Itzá, Mexico, the “seventh wonder of the modern world.” Listen to the story of the ancient Maya civilization.

With unprecedented realism, “Tales of the Maya Skies” immerses us in Maya science, art and mythology, using full-dome digital technology to transport us back into the world of the Maya. The show inspires and educates through its description of the Maya’s accurate astronomical achievements and how astronomy connected them to the universe.

Grammy Award winner and Oscar nominee Lila Downs, narrates as “Tales of the Maya Skies” brings us back to the ancient jungles of Mexico where the Maya built cities and temples aligned to movements of the sun, moon and planets. Over many years they observed and documented astronomical events with great accuracy.

The Maya made sense of an ever-changing world by observing, recording and predicting natural events such as solstices, solar eclipses, weather patterns and planetary movements. These observations, in combination with a sophisticated mathematical system, allowed them to develop a precise calendar system. Their measurements of the length of the solar year were more accurate than measurements the Europeans used as the basis of the Gregorian calendar. The Maya also predicted eclipses, were able to forecast seasonal change and developed the concept of mathematical zero enabling them to predict events into the future.

Recent deciphering of the Maya hieroglyphics is providing archeologists with new and exciting discoveries. Using three dimensional laser scanning and advanced graphic techniques, the virtual reconstruction of architecture in “Tales of the Maya Skies” also supports these archeologists in interpreting the ancient sites and contributes to their conservation

Teaching Guides

Suggested Reading List

The Ancient Maya – Jackie Maloy

The Maya world: who were the ancient Maya and what made them special? -- Farming and cities: how did farming help the Maya build great cities like Tikal and Palenque? -- Life in the golden age: what was life like during the Maya civilization? -- The big truth: pyramids: what is the truth about Maya pyramids? -- Beauty and beliefs: how did the Maya look and what did they believe? -- Works of wonder: what did the Maya achieve in the arts and sciences? -- The golden age ends: what happened to the ancient Maya?

Constellations – F.S. Kim

Find out how constellations have gotten their names, see photos and diagrams of star pictures and learn other truths about the stars.


Mystery of the Maya (DVD)

Explore the culture, science and history of the Mayans. Discusses their work with architecture, math, calendrics, writing systems and buildings.

National Geographic Investigates Ancient Maya: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets to the Maya’s Past – Nathaniel Harris

National geographic investigates ancient Maya : archaeology unlocks the secrets to the Maya's past.

Eclipses – Nick Hunter

This book looks at solar and lunar eclipses, providing background information about the sun, the moon and our planet. The book covers what an eclipse is, what eclipses can look like, how they happen, the effects on wildlife, what people thought of eclipses in the past, how they are studied today and eclipses on other planets.

Mexico – Adele Richardson

This title introduces the geography, daily life, history, culture and natural resources of Mexico.