The solar observatory in the IDEA Center at Austin College will highlight the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox on Friday, September 22. Weather and sunlight permitting, the public is invited to join students and faculty to watch the progress of the sun between 1:00 and 1:20 p.m. as it reaches its highest point in the sky. The IDEA Center is located on the Austin College campus at 1108 E. Richards Street in Sherman. The event is free.
The annual fall and spring equinoxes are the two days when the sun shines directly on the equator and provides nearly equal daylight and night hours. Sunlight pouring through the gnomon hole in the roof of the IDEA Center will cast an image on the atrium floor and align with the equinox marker at exactly “solar noon,” (1:18 p.m. CDT). A gnomon hole is an ancient device originally used to compute time.
Dr. David Baker, professor of physics, director of the Adams Observatory, and author of the award-winning book “The 50 Most Extreme Places in the Solar System” will provide comments and overview during the event. Watching the sunbeam march across the atrium floor and arrive at the equinox marker is magical,” said Baker. “It marks a significant moment in time, one that has been observed by many civilizations throughout history. The solar observatory at Austin College does it in a special way. It’s worth seeing.”
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.