With an atypical Autumn in Eastern Ontario, Canada, I’ve been musing about “What marks the beginning of Fall?” There seem to be a variety of markers, such as cultural events typically occurring in September and October; vegetation turning brown, yellow, and red; flowers fading; daylight hours shrinking; harvesting; temperatures dropping, and so on.
Another marker of Fall is the Autumnal Equinox. Despite over 50 years on this planet, I’ve heard very little about the Autumnal Equinox. It’s about to happen, several hours from now, in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, at the exact same moment, the Spring Equinox will occur:
8:21 AM GMT, 4:21 AM EDT, Wednesday, September 23, 2015
An Equinox is the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator, when hours of daylight and darkness are equal.
Unless you are living right on the equator, daylight and night hours will not be exactly equal when an Equinox occurs. In Autumn, daylight hours will equal night hours a few days after the Equinox. Sunrise will be at 7 AM and sunset will be at 7PM (approximately).
Ever since the Summer Solstice in June–when the number of daylight hours peaked and exceeded night hours–daylight has been shrinking. After the Fall Equinox, daylight will continue to shrink with hours of darkness always exceeding hours of daylight (very sad). Winter Solstice, in December, will be the shortest day of the year.
While the Autumn Equinox is a landmark or turning point in the ongoing process of shrinking daylight hours, an exciting rare celestial event is occurring this Sunday:
Harvest Red Super Moon on Sunday September 27 evening and a Total Lunar Eclipse from 9:07 PM EDT to 12:27 AM EDT.
The last time there was a total lunar eclipse of a Super Moon was in 1982 and the next opportunity will be in 2033. On Sunday, the largest full moon of the year will appear and then pass through the darkest part of Earth’s shadow. Subject to clouds and artificial lighting, the eclipse will be visible across North and South America, in Western Europe, West Africa, and from points on and above the Atlantic Ocean.
Let’s all get out there and witness this rare lunar event. I hope to see some great pictures afterwards too. I invite you to post links to your moon pictures in the Comments here. If I manage to take any decent photos, I will post them as well.
12 Things to Know About the Autumnal Equinox by Melissa Breyer on Treehugger website
The Science Behind Fall and the Autumnal Equinox, by Nicole Mortillaro for Global News (an easy, informative read)
Watch Sunday’s Rare Lunar Eclipse from Anywhere, by Scott Sutherland for The Weather Network, Canada.