AMHERST, Mass. – The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset on the day of the autumnal equinox among the standing stones of the UMass Amherst Sunwheel on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.
At the gatherings, UMass Amherst astronomer Judith Young will give presentations that include information on the seasonal positions of the Earth, sun and moon, significance of the solstices and equinoxes, phases of the moon, building the Sunwheel, and discussion of other calendar sites such as Stonehenge and Callanish in the U.K. and Chichen Itza in Mexico. Young will also explain the moon’s 18.6-year cycle known as the Major Lunar Standstill and answer questions about astronomical signs of the seasons.
This year the instant of the autumnal equinox is 10:49 a.m. local time on Saturday, Sept. 22, the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Visitors to the Sunwheel events should be prepared for cool temperatures when the sun is down and for wet footing. The gatherings typically last one hour. Events are held in all weather except rain.
The UMass Amherst Sunwheel is located south of McGuirk Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road (Amity St.) about ¼ mile west of University Drive in Amherst. Visitors to the Sunwheel should be prepared for cool temperatures and wet footing. Rain cancels the events. A $3 donation is requested to help with the cost of the additional site work and future events.