Logo for Sunwheel Project
What is the Sunwheel Project?
  THE SUNWHEEL PROJECT INVOLVES THE  CONSTRUCTION OF SUNWHEELS AROUND THE WORLD, STARTING HERE  AT U.MASS.  Through the Sunwheel, which concretely  illustrates the variations in the Sun's position  on the horizon throughout the year, I plan  to bring a greater awareness and  understanding of astronomy to the University  community, school children, and the  general public, thereby enhancing science  literacy, encouraging curiosity, and improving  the quality  and enjoyment of life. The Sunwheel provides a gathering spot for people to learn  about and enjoy the sky together.


[To find the dates of solstices and equinoxes through 2020, click here.]

These gatherings generally last 1 hour, and are held in all weather except rain and blizzards. Click on the seasons above for more information.

 In October of 1995, I received PERMISSION  to construct a Sunwheel on campus here at  the University of Massachusetts. The  OBSERVATIONS necessary for the construction of  this Sunwheel were begun in June of 1996,  and were completed by March 1997. These  observations consisted of WATCHING THE  SUN RISE AND SET FROM THE CENTER OF THE  SUNWHEEL AT THE TIMES OF THE SOLSTICES AND  EQUINOXES. Wooden stakes were then placed  along the observed site-lines, 60 feet  from the center of the Sunwheel. In addition, a  SITE SURVEY was conducted at the Sunwheel to locate  true N, S, E and W.

 The 2' tall stones for the preliminary Sunwheel were installed at the site  on May 13, 1997,  using a start-up grant from the Healey Foundation at U.Mass. These  stones were needed to make the Sunwheel a useful teaching tool and to serve as immovable markers of the solstice and equinox directions  while funds were  raised for the 8'-10' tall standing stones. In August 1999, I received a grant from the National Science Foundation to cover the cost of the tall standing stones  in the Sunwheel. Beautiful stones were located at the Chester Granite Co. in East Otis, Massachusetts, a design was approved, and construction  took place from Nov. 6-9, 2000.

  • For the story of building the Sunwheel, click here.
  • For the story of Sunwheel construction, click here.
  • For the article by Judith Young, "THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE U.MASS. SUNWHEEL", click here.

FUTURE WORK at the Sunwheel will involve (1) construction of a stone path  from the road to the stone circle and also around its perimeter to aid in access  during the wet seasons, (2) expansion of the current exhibit to include information  on the construction and the new Moonstones, and (3) installation of a stone  patio as part of the central viewing area.

To see photographs taken at the Sunwheel between 1997  and 1999, click here.

To see photographs of the tall standing stones while still at quarry, click here.

To see recent photographs of the Sunwheel with the tall standing stones, click here.

 Professor Young Prof. Young marking out the site in 1996...
  A project conceived by Professor Judith S. Young
 Department of Astronomy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
 e-mail: Steve Schneider

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