Visualizing the fall equinox at Austin College
SHERMAN, Texas (KTEN) — A crowd was gathered and staring at the floor of Austin College's Idea Center Atrium.
"I got here as fast as I could," said freshman Demi Held.
Austin College is the only school in the country to have what's called a Gnomon Hole; sunlight hits the opening and shines a beam on the floor, pinpointing where the sun is overhead.
"That's one of the things that brought me to the school, is the fact that we have this solar map on our floor,"
The small circle of light on the floor was slowly moving toward a line on the ground marking the time until the Fall Equinox.
"At high noon, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, we will land on this meridian line," explained Austin College physicist David Baker.
The term "equator," according to Baker, is in reference to the halves of the day and night, which were considered for a time to be equal.
"That's not exactly correct," Baker said. "The daytime is 8 minutes longer. But we use the term 'equinox' to mark this day. What's really happening on this day is that the sun is exactly over the equator."
"This looks really nice considering I love space and astronomy," said student Krish Patel.
Faculty, staff and students all joined in the fun. And although it lingered for just a brief moment, everyone was excited when the spot of sunlight hit just the right spot.
"Being able to see it just before the next period starts, it's something special," student Colton LaCroyx said.
Winter is next, but the campus will likely be closed, so viewing will have to wait for the spring equinox in 2023. It will be the 10th year of Austin College has offered this experience..