Manual The Equinox

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Night and day are often said to be equal in length.

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In fact, the word equinox comes from the Latin aequus equal and nox night. For our ancestors, whose timekeeping was less precise than ours, they likely did seem equal. Read more: Are day and night equal at the equinox? The day arc of the sun, every hour, during the equinox as seen on the celestial dome. You might hear that the sun rises due east and sets due west at the equinox. Yes, virtually so. That point marks the intersection of your horizon with the celestial equator — the imaginary line above the true equator of the Earth.

The sun is on the celestial equator, and the celestial equator intersects all of our horizons at points due east and due west.

Read more: Sun rises due east and sets due west. Since Earth never stops moving around the sun, the position of the sunrise and sunset — and the days of approximately equal sunlight and night — will change quickly. The video below was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 19, APOD explained:.

March equinox: All you need to know

The time-lapse video [below] demonstrates this by displaying an entire year on planet Earth in 12 seconds. From geosynchronous orbit, the Meteosat satellite recorded these infrared images of the Earth every day at the same local time. The video started at the September equinox with the terminator line being vertical.

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As the Earth revolved around the sun, the terminator was seen to tilt in a way that provides less daily sunlight to the Northern Hemisphere, causing winter in the north. As the year progressed, the March equinox arrived halfway through the video, followed by the terminator tilting the other way, causing winter in the Southern Hemisphere — and summer in the north.

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The captured year ends again with the September equinox, concluding another of billions of trips the Earth has taken — and will take — around the sun. Where can you look to see signs of the equinox in nature? Forget about the weather for a moment, and think only about the daylight.

March equinox: All you need to know | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

Notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day. Responding to the change in daylight, birds and butterflies are migrating back northward, too, along with the path of the sun. This is a myth. The amount of sunlight we get during the day has no power over the gravitational pull of the Earth or our abilities to balance things on it. Because the color change is more dependent on light than temperature, it takes place at basically the same time year after year, according to the US National Arboretum. Temperature and weather conditions, though, can impact the intensity of fall colors and how long they linger.

They can also subtly affect the timing of when the leaves start to change. And drought can change the rate at which the leaves turn. And it contains no pumpkin.


This recipe from Epicurious includes cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. During the winter and summer solstices, crowds flock to Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. During the solstices, the sun either rises or sets in line with the layout of the 5,year-old monument. And while some flock to Stonehenge for the autumnal equinox too, the real place to be is Mexico. Built by the Maya about 1, years ago, the pyramid is designed to cast a shadow on the equinox outlining the body of Kukulkan , a feathered snake god.

A serpent-headed statue is located at the bottom of the pyramid, and as the sun sets on the day of the equinox, the sunlight and shadow show the body of the serpent joining with the head. All the planets in our solar system rotate on a tilted axis and therefore have seasons. Some of these tilts are minor like Mercury, which is tilted at 2. But others are more like the Earth Below, see a beautiful composite image of Saturn on its equinox captured by the Cassini spacecraft RIP in The gas giant is tilted 27 degrees relative to the sun, and equinoxes on the planet are less frequent than on Earth.

The Seasons, the Equinox, and the Solstices

Saturn only sees an equinox about once every 15 years because it takes Saturn 29 years to complete one orbit around the sun. Last year, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe , a spacecraft that will come within 4 million miles of the surface of the sun much closer than any spacecraft has been before. Still, even several million miles away, the probe will have to withstand temperatures of 2, degrees Fahrenheit.

Brad Plumer wrote for Vox about what happens when the sun erupts and sends space weather our way to wreak havoc on Earth. By choosing I Accept , you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. Earth during the vernal equinox. The fall equinox is Monday: 9 things to know about the first day of autumn A brief scientific guide to the first day of fall.

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Below is a short scientific guide to the most equal night of the season. Posted by Ian Hennes on Saturday, December 21, Share this story Twitter Facebook.