Join KU's autumnal equinox walking tours
LAWRENCE — Over thousands of years, perceptive humans have discovered and then integrated in structures the interrelations of the slowly changing annual star configurations in the night sky and the radically different position of the sun on the horizon at the winter and summer solstices and the similar position of the sun at the fall and spring equinox.
Join the University of Kansas community in an Autumnal Equinox Starlight Walking Tour starting at 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the intersection of 14th Street and Jayhawk Boulevard. Professor Emeritus Ted Johnson will lead the tour.
Subjects will include Spooner Hall, the former University Library, oriented and constructed in the manner of a 12th century Romanesque church. Then discover how Fraser Hall, the tower of the Natural History Museum, the Daniel Chester French sculpture of mentor and student before the Ionic portico of Lippincott, and the main north door of Watson Library, an oriented collegiate Gothic structure, align with Polaris, our current pole star in the 26,000-year cycle of the procession of the equinoxes. Somewhat after 6 a.m., having discussed the orientation of Stauffer-Flint with its bisected circle in stone above the eastern door, the tour group will return to the eastern façade of the Natural History Museum to see how the iconography and ideas beautifully interrelate. Around 7 a.m. the group will experience the brightening of the sky and the rising of the sun directly above 14th Street.
For those unable to attend the 5 a.m. event, Johnson will conduct an hourlong tour starting at 10 a.m. Friday from 14th and Jayhawk Boulevard to study the structures on the eastern brow of Mount Oread in relation to the equinoxes, then examine the sculptures on the eastern façade of the Natural History Museum as they relate to the traditional Seven Liberal Arts and particularly astronomy.