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STEM Ed Announcement: Sunwheel & Sky-Watching Events Mark Spring Equinox



This is a UMass Amherst program.
 Contact information is below.
 ==============================================       
 
 
 UMass Amherst Sunwheel and Sky-Watching Events Mark the Spring Equinox
 on March 20 
 
 AMHERST, Mass.  The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset
 associated with the spring equinox among the standing stones of the
 UMass Amherst Sunwheel on Friday, March 20 at 6:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.
 These Sunwheel events mark the astronomical change of seasons when days
 and nights are nearly equal in length in the Northern Hemisphere.
  
 At the gatherings, which have attracted more than 10,000 visitors over
 the past 17 years, UMass Amherst astronomer Christopher Thibodeau will
 discuss the astronomical cause of the suns changing position during the
 hour-long gatherings. He will also explain the seasonal positions of
 Earth, the sun and moon, and answer questions about astronomy.
  
 The exact time of the vernal equinox this year is 6:45 p.m. Eastern
 Daylight Time on March 20. This ushers in the beginning of spring and
 is also the day the sun rises into the sky to be visible for six months
 as seen from the North Pole, and the day it sets for six months as seen
 from the South Pole.
  
 On the equinox, an observer located on the Earths equator will see the
 sun pass directly overhead at local noon, and that person will cast no
 shadow at noon. On any day other than the equinox, either the earths
 Northern or Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun.
  
 For observers, except those at the North and South Poles, the sun on
 the equinox (for equi, equal and nox, night) rises due east and sets
 due west and stays up for 12 hours and down for 12 hours. From the
 Sunwheel in Amherst, observers standing at the center of the standing
 stones see the Sun rise and set over stones placed to mark the
 equinoxes.
  
 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
 especially wet footing this year. Rain or blizzard conditions cancel
 the events. Donations are welcomed and will be used to help with the
 cost of additional site work at the Sunwheel and future events.
  
 Contact: Janet Lathrop 413/545-0444 

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