UMass Sunwheel winter solstice

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Astronomers at UMass Amherst are providing live presentations from the Sunwheel on campus Monday.

The start of winter solstice began Monday, December 21 at 5:02 a.m. which will be the shortest day of the year. On the winter solstice, this is when the earth is at its maximum tilt away from the sun. After that, the earth will slowly start tilting back, until it’s most forward tilt toward the sun on the summer solstice.

Visitors that want to view the sunrise and sunset at the UMass Sunwheel is located south of McGuirk Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road. The public can view on the days following the official solstice.

According to UMass Amherst, astronomer Stephen Schneider will discuss the astronomical cause of the solstice, and a live video feed will show the sunrise and sunset alignments, weather permitting. He will be joined by other astronomers online to help answer questions, explain the seasonal positions of Earth, sun, and moon, and the design of the Sunwheel.

The live presentations take place from 7:15 a.m. through 3:45 p.m. Monday. To join the Zoom live, visit

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