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Medicine Wheel event set on summer solstice

The summer solstice is June 21.

A Medicine Wheel event will be held for this at 205 Winter Show Road SE, Valley City. Joe Stickler will be at the Medicine Wheel from 1 to 2 p.m. that day. He will conduct a tour of the park and give an explanation of the two solar calendars. Of particular interest will be the alignment of the Solar Meridian calendar showing local apparent noon at 1:32 p.m. if it is sunny.

The nearby 38-foot utility pole and rock alignment serves as a reminder of another ancient method of tracking of the seasons. This type of calendar uses a beam of sunlight or the length of the shadow cast by an object when the sun is directly south at local apparent noon (as the sun crosses the meridian or mid-point in the sky). At this moment the shadow points directly north. With minor adjustments this type of device can be used as a sundial to monitor the hours in a day.

Evidence suggests that the Anasazi, the ancestral Pueblo Indians of the southwestern United States, used the interplay of a beam of sunlight and rock art to monitor the seasons in a similar fashion. Many European churches employed the beam of sunlight technique for calendar construction. In the 13th century the Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing used the shadow method to determine the length of the year to the nearest minute. Early pioneers in this area noted local apparent noon with the saying, “When the horse walks on the shadow of its belly, it’s dinner time!”

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Valley City State University Planetarium will hold a free show in room 309 of the VCSU Rhoades Science Center. The 40 minute program, “It’s About Time,” takes a lighthearted look at the various ways time has been calculated since early people first began observing the sun, moon and constellations. There is no charge for these events, a donation box is available.

For more information, contact Wes Anderson or Stickler at (701) 845-1848.