Pontianak, capital of the province of West Kalimantan lies exactly on the Equator. Twice a year, when the sun hovers right above the equator, you can watch yourself standing on your own shadow. This year the first equinox will occur on 21st to 23rd March 2017 precisely at 11.38 am West Indonesia Time, while the second will happen on 21-23 September.
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At Equinox, the tilt of the Earth (with respect to the Sun) stands at 0°, and, for that reason, the duration of the day and the night will be almost exactly equal in length. In the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox (March) conventionally marks the beginning of spring, celebrated by many cultures around the world, while the autumnal equinox (September) marks the beginning of autumn. Whereas, in the southern hemisphere, this is the exact opposite, where the vernal equinox is in September and the autumnal equinox in March.
With the sun being exactly overhead on these dates you will notice shadows of trees or people disappear for a few moments. Astronomers at the Equatorial Monument in Pontianak are even able to point out the exact second when the shadow of the city’s iconic Monument and other objects around it will disappear from view.
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According to Indonesia’s Science Research and Application Office (BPPT), the current position of the Equatorial Monument is located on latitude 0 degree, 0 minutes 0 second, with its longitude is at 109 degrees, 20 minutes and 0 second East. Although a shift of 117 meters has occurred from the previously measured equatorial line, the exact spot where the equatorial monument now stands is considered still the best location on earth to observe this astronomical phenomenon.
To celebrate this special phenomenon a festival will be held, filled with a range of exciting activities. Pontianak’s Equinox Festival will feature art and cultural performances from around the region, exhibitions, a culinary bazaar, and plenty more. During the festival, visitors are invited to explore the Kapuas river, the longest river in Indonesia, and visit the Betung traditional Village which has retained its age old Dayak culture and traditions.
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Head of the Office of Tourism and Culture of Pontianak City, Hilfira Hamid cofirmed, that: “We have prepared many attractions across the city on the occasion of Equinox, including Rafting the Bengkayang river, visiting the Rumah Betang Radak traditional Dayak longhouse, and the Palace of Kadariyah Sultanate, strolling down the PasirPanjang Beach, the Kura-kura Beach, or visit the fascinating town of Singkawang, and more”.
Next to Indonesia, there are only 4 other countries in the world where one can observe this unique phenomenon , and all are located in Africa . They are Gabon, Zaire, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia. Nonetheless, Pontianak is the only city in the world which is located directly on the equatorial line, with the result that pictures taken here at equinox will be perfectly clear of any shadows.
The Equatorial Monument in Pontianak was first built in 1928 by a Dutch Geographer. Marking the borderline between the earth’s northern and southern hemispheres The Dutch explorer indicated the site with a simple pole and an arrow. Several renovations and improvements have taken place since then, including the development of a dome in 1990 to protect the initial site. The monument today is five times larger than the original. Historical facts are presented within the monument and can also be seen in the small museum.