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STEM Ed Announcement: UMass Sunwheel Marks Equinox

This is a UMass Amherst program
 Contact information is below.
 UMass Amherst Sunwheel and Sky-Watching Events Mark the Autumnal
 Equinox on Sept. 23 
 AMHERST, Mass.  The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset
 associated with the autumnal equinox among the standing stones of the
 UMass Amherst Sunwheel on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 6:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.
 These Sunwheel events mark the astronomical change of seasons when days
 and nights are of nearly equal length in the Northern Hemisphere.
 At the gatherings, which have attracted more than 10,000 visitors over
 the past 18 years, UMass Amherst astronomer Stephen Schneider 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 in astronomy such as the
 definition of blue moon, supermoon, and why Sept. 23 is celebrated
 despite the fact that Sept. 17 is actually the shortest day of the
 The exact time of the autumnal equinox this year is 4:20 a.m. Eastern
 Daylight Time on Sept. 23. This marks the moment that the Sun crosses
 the celestial equator from north to south as seen from Earth, ushering
 in the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. On the day of the
 equinox, an observer located on the Earths equator will see the sun
 pass directly overhead at local noon. On this the day the sun rises
 into the sky to be visible for six months as seen from the South Pole,
 and it sets for six months as seen from the North Pole. 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
 If the skies are clear, telescopes will be set up to permit
 observations of the sun and other objects. At the morning session this
 fall, a crescent Venus may be glimpsed before the sun rises, and at the
 evening session a waxing gibbous moon will be up.
 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 wet
 footing, and mosquito repellent is highly recommended. Heavy 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
 Sunwheel website: http://www.umass.edu/sunwheel/pages/gatherings.html

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