What is the autumn equinox?
The autumn equinox, sometimes called the fall equinox, is a celestial event that occurs worldwide each September, usually on or around September 22nd. The autumn equinox happens when the sun crosses the celestial equator toward the south. Conversely, the vernal, or spring equinox, occurs then the sun crosses the celestial equator moving north.
When is the autumn equinox?
The exact date and time of the autumn equinox tends to vary year over year. It usually occurs on or around the 22nd of September. In 2019, the fall equinox will happen at exactly 12:50AM PST on Monday, September 23rd. The autumn equinox in 2020 will fall on September 22nd and 6:31AM.
What does “equinox” mean?
The word “equinox” is rooted in two Latin words: equi and nox. Equi means “equal” and nox” means “night.” The name stems from the fact that, during the equinox, there are, depending on your latitude, equal amounts of daylight and darkness.
The autumn equinox lasts only a moment
Most people who celebrate the autumn equinox choose to celebrate it all day, but the equinox doesn’t last for a day. In fact, it only lasts a moment. In 2019, the equinox will occur at exactly 12:50AM PST on Monday, September 23rd.
How is the autumn equinox celebrated
There are countless autumn equinox celebrations that happen around the world, some dating back thousands of years. In Japan, a period called Ohigan is celebrated by Buddhists who view the equinox as symbolic of life transitions. China and Vietnam celebrate the Moon Festival, happening each year during the full moon closest to the fall equinox. Neo-Druids gather at Stonehenge in Britain to watch the sunrise each equinox. In the west, the fall equinox is a time of celebrating fall activities with fairs, festivals, and other types of events.
It is the year’s second equinox
There are two equinoxes that happen each year, the spring equinox, also called the vernal equinox, and the fall equinox. Spring equinox generally occurs on or around March 22nd. These are the only two equinoxes in a year.
It’s the spring equinox south of the equator
In the Southern Hemisphere, not only are seasons reversed, but so are the equinoxes! When an autumn equinox happens in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s actually the spring equinox to people living in the Southern Hemisphere! So while we in the north are getting ready for changing leaves and pumpkin spice, our friends south of the equator are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring flowers.
Moonrises are closer together
The full moon that occurs closest to the fall equinox is a celestially significant event, as the period of time between moonrises becomes shorter during this time. This is called the “Harvest Moon Effect.” It occurs because of the low angle the Moon’s orbit around the Earth makes with the horizon during the equinox. The opposite happens in the Southern Hemisphere during this time.
Chances of seeing the northern lights are higher
If you’re a fan of the aurora borealis, the fall and spring equinoxes may be your best time to see these dazzling lights! Geomagnetic activities happen twice as frequently in the spring and fall, making them more ideal than summer and winter to see the northern lights.
Days start getting shorter
Following the autumn equinox, the days will begin to get shorter until the winter solstice in December. Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. The following spring equinox will begin the march of longer days until the longest day of the year in June.