The Quitsato Sundial is a cultural-touristic place located at La Mitad Del Mundo, near to Cayambe, 47km at North of Quito. It was built in 2006 and inaugurated in 2007 as an independent, non-profit project in a 24756 ft² (2300 m²) area. Its main goal is to divulge crucial aspects of the astronomical knowledge related to Mitad del Mundo for prehispanic cultures who lived in the region, and to share to people's knowledge about astronomy. The expositions are carried by community members as a self-sustaining project.
It consists of a circular platform of 177.64 ft (54 m) in diameter which forms a mosaic of light and dark pebbles drawing an eight-pointed star that indicates the solstices and equinoxes, plus intermediate lines pointing to the cardinal directions. In the center of this platform there is a 10m (32.80ft) and 1.30m (4.27 ft) diameter cylindrical orange tube which serves as a gnomon, pointing to the corresponding hours and months of the year in the platform according to the shadow cast by the Sun. The ten meter high gnomon represents the metric system, based in the meter which in its beginning was intended to be the result of one ten-millionth of Earth's quadrant. The aim of the color difference between the stones, apart from showing equinox and solstice lines, is to explain the meaning of albedo and its use in astronomical study. The Equator line is drawn by using smaller, darker pebbles between two metal plates.
The angles that form the geometric design of the eight-pointed star are given by the tilt of the Earth with respect to the ecliptic of the Earth, thus the platform itself also presents a reading of the celestial mechanics. There are presented detailed positions of the solstices and equinoxes, as well as their respective axes.
It is possible to verify that the Mitad del Mundo Monument lies just 244 meters south of the Equator by using a GPS or even a GIS application, such as Google Earth. This monument was built in honor of the French Geodesic Mission, which, in the year 1736, conducted experiments to test the flattening at the poles of the characteristic shape of the Earth, by comparing the distance between a degree meridian in the equatorial zone to another level measured in Sweden. However, they spent a day at the location of the parallel 0 in the grounds of the old Hacienda Guachalá. They left a stone tablet, which is presently being displayed at the Astronomical Observatory of Quito. In the vicinity of this inaccurate monument, tourists are presented with different non-scientific tricks related to the location of the equator.
The Ecuadorian Military Geographic Institute has placed two cylinders surrounded by concrete on a platform on top of the Equatorial line, with a 1mm error margin determined by using GPS and GNSS equipment.
- Instituto Geográfico Militar de Ecuador (24 Enero 2005). "Memoria Técnica de la Determinación de la Latitud Cero" (in Español).
- Lafuente, Mazuecos, Antonio (1992). Los Caballeros del Punto Fijo. Abya-Yala. p. 70.