Here are 10 fast facts about the 2016 Autumnal Equinox
The Autumnal Equinox is set to officially start on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Here are 10 fast facts to welcome the new season.
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- The Northern Hemisphere will enter fall at approximately 14:21 UTC on Thursday. While the date can change from year to year, equinoxes occur at the same moment for everyone across the globe.
- Fall usually occurs on Sept. 22, 23 or 24 in the Northern Hemisphere.
- The equinox marks the two times each year (spring and fall) when day and night are about the same length. Although, scientists have said the split can be off by a few minutes. This year the sun is set to rise at 6:44 a.m. EDT on the equinox and will set at 6:52 p.m., meaning there is eight minutes more of daylight than darkness.
- The word equinox comes from Latin words "equi," meaning "equal" and "nox," which means "night." It signifies the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator, the so-called imaginary line over the Earth's equator, which brings an equal amount of daylight and darkness.
- From Sept. 22 onward, the days will get shorter until the Winter Solstice in December, which is technically the shortest day of the year. An equinox is different from a solstice, where the sun hits its northernmost or southernmost position.
- For meteorologists, fall in the Northern Hemisphere starts about three weeks before the September Equinox on Sept. 1 and ends on Nov. 30. This is because it is easier for scientists to gather and analyze data for a specific season, since astronomical season start dates vary year to year.
- In the Southern Hemisphere, the September Equinox marks the first day of spring, which is called the Vernal Equinox.
- The full moon closest to the September Equinox, known as the Harvest Moon, occurred this year on Sept. 16. The last time the Harvest Moon perfectly coincided with the autumnal equinox was in 2010 and this won't happen again until 2029.
- As the Autumnal Equinox approaches, areas located at high Northern Hemisphere latitudes may also witness the aurora borealis display. According to NASA, geomagnetic activities in the Northern Hemisphere are twice as likely to occur during spring and fall than in summer and winter.
- Many cultures around the world celebrate the September Equinox. In China, the Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Also known as the Moon Festival, it is the time of year when the moon is believed to be the roundest and brightest.
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