Monday, March 24, 2008

McGuirk and the UMass Sunwheel

In the Easter blog post I talked about the astronomical connections with the date of Easter. The comments to the post started me thinking about the fact that the UMass Football stadium is perhaps the only stadium with a working stone astronomical calender on the grounds.

The calender is the famous UMass Sun wheel . Designed and constructed by UMass astronomy professor Judith Young , the Sun Wheel is the site of numerous presentations by Prof Young . It is a little smaller than Stonehedge as pictured to the right, but still great fun.

The Springfield Republican just ran two articles about the UMass/McGuirk Sun Wheel here and here .

Next time you visit, show it to your kids---- they'll love climbing on the rocks if nothing else :)


Anonymous said...

One of the best and most entertaining professors I ever had at UMass.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog prior to attending the game against Navy. You do a great job. In your Easter column you have a link about the date of Easter which refers to spring starting on March 21. This link contains corrected information about when spring starts.

UMass74 said...

Interesting article thanks for pointing it out.

I should have said that Easter is a quasi-astronomical holiday.

The religious calender follows a different rule.

"The usual statement, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. The full moon involved is not the astronomical Full Moon but an ecclesiastical moon (determined from tables) that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical Moon.

The ecclesiastical rules are:

* Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox;
* this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and
* the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21."

UMass74 said...

The above quote is from the USNO website.