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STEM Ed Announcement: Solstice Sunwheel & Sky-Watching Events



This is a UMass Amherst program.
 Contact information is below.
 ==============================================       
 
 Sunwheel and Sky-Watching Events Mark Winter Solstice on Dec. 21 
 
 The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset associated with the
 winter solstice among the standing stones of the UMass Amherst Sunwheel
 on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Heavy rain, snow or
 dangerous winter conditions will cancel the gatherings.
  
 Sunwheel events mark the astronomical changes of the seasons. The
 winter solstice marks the date when nights are longest and days are
 shortest in the Northern Hemisphere and the sun rises and sets at its
 most southerly location along the horizon, over the southeasterly and
 southwesterly stones in the Sunwheel, respectively.
  
 At the hour-long gatherings, UMass Amherst astronomer Stephen Schneider
 will discuss the astronomical cause of the suns solstice or standstill.
 This refers to the fact that the sun appears to rise at a fixed spot on
 the southeast horizon for more than a week, and to set in a fixed
 southwest direction similarly.
  
 Schneider will explain the seasonal positions of Earth, the sun and
 moon, moon phases, building the Sunwheel and discuss other calendar
 sites such as Stonehenge and the Karnak Temple in Egypt. He will also
 be happy to answer other astronomical questions. If it is clear before
 sunset, a solar telescope will be set up to safely observe the surface
 of the sun.
  
 The instant when the sun reaches its most southerly apparent position
 occurs at 6:03 p.m. local time on Dec. 21. However, Sunwheel visitors
 who stop in on their own will be able to see the sun rising and setting
 over the winter solstice stones from roughly Dec. 16 to 26.
  
 Teachers can earn certificates of participation for attending seasonal
 gatherings at the Sunwheel. Contact Stephen Schneider at
 schneider@astro.umass.edu for more information.
  
 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. Visitors to the Sunwheel should be prepared for
 freezing temperatures and wet footing. Rain or blizzard conditions
 cancel the events. A $3 donation is requested to help with the cost of
 the additional site work and future events.

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