AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The Sunwheel at UMass Amherst will be the site of a public event celebrating the arrival of fall.

The Autumnal Equinox this year occurs at 9:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, September 22, marking the astronomical change of seasons when days and nights are nearly equal in length around the world. The sun crosses over the celestial equator from the northern hemisphere of the sky to the southern hemisphere, creating the “equal” or equinox. This is the beginning of fall in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern.

During the program, UMass Amherst astronomer Stephen Schneider will explain the design of the Sunwheel, the sun’s changing alignments among the stones, the seasonal positions of Earth, the sun, the moon, as well as myths and legends surrounding seasonal changes.

The gatherings will be held in person at 6:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and last about an hour. 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 ground, and insect repellent is recommended. Heavy rain cancels the events, but the talks will be given if there are clouds or light rain.