The public is invited to witness the passing of the seasons by joining Drs. Judith Young and Steve Schneider of the UMass Dept. of Astronomy to watch the Sun rise and set over the tall standing stones in the UMass Sunwheel for the Summer Solstice of 2013.
The sunrise event will be held at 5:00 a.m. on Friday June 21, and the sunset events will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday June 20 and 21. These gatherings celebrate the Solstice and 16 years of Sunwheel seasonal events for the public, which have attracted over 10,000 visitors.
For those interested in learning about the sky, the gathering will include a presentation that describes the significance of the solstices and equinoxes, the cause of the seasons and phases of the Moon, the story of building the Sunwheel, and other calendar sites around the world, such as Stonehenge and Callanish in the UK, and Chichen Itza in Mexico. There will also be an explanation of the Moon's 18.6-year cycle, also called the Major Lunar Standstill.
Come gather in community and connect with the sky -- bring your questions, your curiosity, and be prepared for cool temperatures & wet ground. The gatherings typically last 1 hour, and are held in all weather except rain. Please note: The sunrise event will be more ceremonial and participatory in nature, including elements of ritual, personal reflection, poetry, song, and meditation, along with teachings on the astronomy of the seasons.
The UMass Sunwheel is located south of McGuirk Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road. The Sunwheel can easily be reached from the center of Amherst, following Amity St. to the west, on the right hand side of the road about 1/4 mile after crossing University Drive.
The UMass Amherst Sunwheel is located south of McGuirk Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road (Amity St.) about one-quarter mile south of University Drive.