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Solar calendar showcases equinox

This article appeared in the September 20, 2013 edition of the Davis Enterprise

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

In the northeast corner of Mace Ranch Park, nestled in between the largest, oldest oak tree and Korematsu Elementary school is a curious sandy spiral that seems to rise naturally out of the landscape.  It is artist Sam Tubiolo’s “Evidence of Life”, a conceptual art installation commissioned by the city of Davis in 2006.

“Evidence of Life” is a human-sized solar calendar that allows visitors to observe seasonal changes in the natural world around them, particularly on significant dates like solstices and equinoxes.  And since the autumnal equinox is this weekend, there’s no better time to drop by Mace Ranch Park and give “Evidence of Life” a visit.

The seven large stones strategically placed at the center and around the perimeter of the installation facilitate a visitor’s experience of the changing seasons.  The three stones on the east side represent sunrises and the three stones on the west side represent sunsets.

If you sit on the center stone and face east, the eastern stones mark, from left to right, the sunrises of the summer solstice, the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.  The stone you’re sitting on represents the vernal equinox sunrise.

If you sit on the center stone and face west, the western stones mark, from left to right, the sunsets of the winter solstice, the vernal equinox and the summer solstice.  The stone you’re sitting on represents the autumnal equinox.

This year the autumnal equinox will occur on Sunday, September 22, at 1:44 p.m. to be precise.  The autumnal equinox is the day when the Earth has no tilt so we get equal portions of daylight and nighttime.  After the equinox, days will start getting shorter and nights will start getting longer.

On Sunday, the 22nd the sun will rise at 6:54 a.m. and if you’re sitting on the center stone of “Evidence of Life”, you should see it cresting the horizon in line with the second of the eastern stones on the perimeter of the spiral.  Or visit “Evidence of Life” at 7:04 p.m. and face west to catch the sunset.

Of course “Evidence of Life” is there all year round for passersby to stop and reflect for a moment on the ever-changing nature of the world around us regardless of the season.  And this fall you can visit Explorit’s Beautiful World:  Science and Art exhibition to learn more about the interconnectedness of art and science.


Explorit’s coming events:

• Saturday, October 19, 2013 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. you’re invited to our October fundraiser "Touched by Science, Touched by Explorit: Celebrating 30 years of Putting Hands On Science". Enjoy food, wine, special guests and get your own commemorative long-STEM wine glass! Explorit Members and UC Davis Alumni Association Members can purchase discounted tickets to this fundraising event. For more information and to buy tickets visit


Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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