MUSCODA—Bid farewell to winter and welcome spring by observing the vernal equinox among the ancient effigy mounds at the Frank Shadewald property near Muscoda.
On Tuesday evening, March 19, people will gather to observe the final sunset of winter and to gaze at the night sky with the aid of telescopes provided by John Heasley and the Iowa County Astronomers. Another gathering to welcome the first sunrise of spring will be held at dawn Wednesday, March 20. Those wishing to attend should gather at Frank’s Hill by 6:30 p.m. March 19 or by 6:30 a.m. March 20. The events are subject to suitable weather conditions. A short hike to the top of the hill offers a stunning view of the lower Wisconsin River Valley. Frank’s Hill is located 2 miles west of Muscoda near the intersection of Hwy. 60 and Hwy. 193.
“After a long winter, it is time to celebrate the coming of spring. I am welcoming people of all religious beliefs to the sacred mounds on my property to say farewell to winter with the setting sun on Tuesday night and to observe the amazing rebirth of the spring sun on Wednesday morning as it rises in a direct easterly alignment over the effigy mound group. It is a remarkable sight and I feel privileged to share the special experience with area residents,” said Shadewald.
Heasley said participants should feel free to bring their own binoculars or telescopes to the Tuesday night event. “On the spring equinox, day and night are of equal length,” he said. “As the sky darkens, we’ll enjoy the first quarter moon, Jupiter and four of its moons, the Orion Nebula, Pleiades, and maybe Comet PanSTARRS. It’s a thrill to be able to stargaze again at a site where we humans have been gathering for centuries.”
Frank’s Hill is on the National Register of Historic Places. A group of unique effigy mounds is situated on the east ridge where the event will occur, which looks across to the west ridge where a line of small mounds, thought to be calendar mounds, is situated. The site offers a panoramic vista of the area that once contained the highest concentration of bird effigy mounds found anywhere in the world, including the remnants of the giant Ghost Eagle mound with a wingspan of over ¼ mile.
To learn more about the equinox events or for directions, contact Frank Shadewald at (608) 739-3079.