Fall begins this Thursday September 22 with the autumnal equinox! Join us for a live show as we welcome in the new seasons–and learn all about the movement of the Sun. Get details.
Live Autumnal Equinox Celebration!
To be exact, the Northern Hemisphere enters on Thursday morning, September 22, 2016, at exactly 10:21 a.m. EDT.
Starting at 10:00 A.M.(EDT), we’ll be broadcasting a LIVE equinox show right on this page, courtesy of Slooh’s network of observatories. This program will be anchored by live, up close views of our Sun from Slooh’s Solar Telescope at their flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, and will feature live views of the Sun from around the world.
During the broadcast, Slooh host Paul Cox, will be joined by a series of expert guests, including Dr. Gail Higginbottom from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Dr. Higginbotton recently used innovative technologies to analyze the great stone circles of the United Kingdom, and found a connection between them and the movement of the Sun and Moon. For centuries, historians have believed the great stone circles found all over the world, in countries from Australia to America to the famous Stonehenge in England were built to mark the movement of the Sun at moments like the solstice and equinox. Dr. Higginbottom will join the broadcast to discuss her research, and what first got her started on the path to proving the motives of ancient humans.
Paul will also be joined by Janice Stillman, Editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Janice will discuss some of the long-held cultural beliefs and traditions surrounding the equinox. She’ll also be on hand to crack the popular belief that you can balance an egg on its end during the equinox.
Slooh Astronomer and Astronomy Editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Bob Berman, will then join the show to break down the basics of the equinox, and help the audience understand why Day and Night aren’t actually equal, and why this year’s equinox is so late this year.
Join us Thursday: 7:00 AM PDT | 10:00 AM EDT | 14:00 UTC (International Times: http://bit.ly/2cNA88N).
Watch the live stream below!
What is the Autumnal Equinox?
The September equinox happens every year on either the 22nd, 23rd, or even 24th, depending on the calendar. This is the astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
The word equinox means “equal night”; night and day are about the same length of time. During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator” (just imagine the line that marks the equator on Earth extending up into the sky) from north to south. At this point, the amount of nighttime and daytime are roughly equal to each other.
Another definition of fall is nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights (i.e., hours of daylight decline).
It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.
–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
What’s in store for your winter weather? Order you copy of The 2017 Old Farmer’s Almanac!
Equal Days and Nights
Nights and days actually aren’t perfectly equal on the equinox, as in 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime. The split may be off by a few minutes. Why does this happen?
It depends where you live. On the equinoxes, the very center of the Sun sets just 12 hours after it rises. But the day begins when the upper edge of the Sun reaches the horizon (which happens a bit before the center rises), and it doesn’t end until the entire Sun has set. Not only that, but the Sun is actually visible when it is below the horizon, as Earth’s atmosphere refracts the Sun’s rays and bends them in an arc over the horizon. According to our former astronomer, George Greenstein, “If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’”
What Falling Leaves Indicate
There’s an old weather proverb that states, “If autumn leaves are slow to fall, prepare for a cold winter.” This means that leaves tht hang onto the tree indicate a colder winter to come. Or, perhaps you just haven’t had enough windy days! But look on the bright side—you get to look at the beautiful autumn foliage for a little bit longer. Learn why autumn leaves change color.
Signs of Fall
In many regions of North America, the landscape silently explodes with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. The leaves begin to drop off the trees, providing endless hours of jumping into leaf piles for kids and raking them back up for parents! Baseball season hits the homestretch, while football season is just warming up. Temperatures begin to drop, nights begin to get longer, and all the woodland critters are storing up for the long haul of winter.
How do you know that fall is coming? Share your comment below!
Autumn Folklore and Verse
Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor. –Irish proverb
Trees snapping and cracking in the autumn indicate dry weather.
If, in the fall of the leaves in October, many of them wither on the boughs and hang there, it betokens a frosty winter and much snow.
Spring rain damps;
Autumn rain soaks.
Of autumn’s wine, now drink your fill; the frost’s on the pumpkin, and snow’s on the hill.
–The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1993
Autumn has caught us in our summer wear. –Philip Larkin, British poet (1922–86)