Longest day of the year

Visitors during the University of Wyoming Art Museum’s Summer Solstice Celebration 2016 view the illuminated silver dollar in the Rotunda Gallery. Photo courtesy of UW Art Museum

The University of Wyoming Art Museum plans to celebrate the longest day of the year with art, science and a particularly well-placed coin.

Visitors to the museum Tuesday will get to watch beams of light — entering the room through tiny windows in the ceiling of the museum’s rotunda — converge on a 1923 silver peace dollar implanted in the floor.

It’s something one does not want to miss, said Kaitlyn Hill, who handles visitor services at the front desk.

“It only lines up that one day of the year for like an hour or two,” she said.

“So, it’s kind of rare to see, but it’s really different from what most people have seen.”

In addition to viewing the coin, visitors are invited to take part in art-making workshops involving reflective paint and light-sensitive fabrics and to make use of solar glasses provided by the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium.

The Laramie Astronomical Society and Space Observers will help visitors use filtered solar telescopes located on the museum terrace that allow one to look directly at the sun.

The day also includes a visit from UW Geological Museum staff, who will show off samples of anorthosite, an earth rock that closely resembles rocks found on the moon.

Anorthosite, which forms in magma chambers underground, is a rare formation of the extremely abundant mineral feldspar, Geological Museum and Collections Manager Laura Vietti said.

“When you look at the moon, there are light spots and dark spots — the light spots are anorthosite,” Vietti said. “The anorthosite we are bringing is not a moon rock, but it’s almost as close as you can get to a moon rock.”

Anorthosite is only found in a few places on Earth, and Sybille Canyon outside of Laramie is one of them, Vietti said.

The U.S. Postal Service will also hold the national debut of its first-ever color-changing stamps during the solstice event. The stamps bear a photo of the eclipse that turns into the moon when heated by the touch of one’s thumb. The stamps were designed in anticipation of the solar eclipse happening in August.

Hill said she expects quite a crowd.

“I do believe we’re expecting a couple hundred people this year,” she said. “I know last year was pretty crazy with it. A lot of people really enjoy seeing it.”

Visitors are encouraged to arrive early at 11:30 a.m. The light hits the coin at noon and the event’s other activities are scheduled to last until 3:30 p.m. The event is free to the public. Go to www.uwyo.edu/artmuseum or call the UW Art Museum at 766-6622 for more information.

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