Have you ever heard the word “Equinox” or “Autumn Equinox” or wondered what it means? Here’s what you need to know.
When midday sun starts to sink lower than usual and when nights seem longer than usual, it means something. It means that summer is ending in the northern half of the globe. Studies show that autumn equinox commences on 22 September at 10:21 am ET. This marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Equinox” is a Latin word, which means “equal night.” This means experiencing 12 hours of the day and 12 hours of darkness. This happens only on two equinox days in a year. Scientists say that this is the reason why Earth has different seasons. Earth completes its journey in the orbit in 365-days. Different hemispheres tilt closer or farther from the sun’s rays during the orbital movement. Technically, an equinox is more of a geometric alignment that exists between the Earth and the sun. The sun’s position becomes right above Earth during the equinox.
At this time, both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres experience equal sunshine. This happens only during the spring and autumn equinoxes, and at this time, the sun rises due east and sets due west. As December approaches, the Northern Hemisphere tilts farther from the sun. There will be a lesser sun, long shadows, and the weather becomes cooler. Hence, the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter. The December solstice happens as the sun reaches its lowest level in the midday sky.
Autumn Equinox Explained
Some people claim that equinoxes reveal hidden astronomical secrets. Ancient cultures and some in present times celebrate the seasonal changes. The ancient Mayan civilization had the step pyramid, called El Castillo situated in Chichén Itza, located in Mexico. On spring or autumn equinoxes, when the sunsets, the sunlight hits the steep staircase of the structure at a right angle. This creates an eerie snake-like shape, which has a slithering effect along its entire length.
According to research, other planets also experience equinoxes and seasonal changes, but not at such extremes as we experience on Earth. Mars is similar to Earth and tilts towards or away from the sun. However, its distance from the sun means that Martian winter would last for just 154 days. Uranus has a seasonal disorder that is a nightmare. Its axis tips to 90 degrees, and spins on its side for 84-years, which is the time it takes to orbit around the sun. This means that Uranus experiences numbing winters for 42 years.
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