Fall starts tomorrow, officially at 8:21am MST. Thanks to almanac.com and timeanddate.com, here are some fun facts about the “Autumnal Equinox.”

The word equinox means “equal night.” Day and night are both about 12 hours each. The sun will rise due east, and will set due west. Starting on this day, the hours of daylight will gradually get shorter. The start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere means it’s the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

Each year, the equinox can happen September 22nd, 23rd, or 24th, depending on the calendar. The equinox is not actually a day-long event, but the exact moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator. At that moment, the Earth's rotational axis is not tilted either  away from or towards the Sun. Timeanddate.com says “The equinox dates vary because of the difference between how the Gregorian calendar defines a year (365 days) and the time it actually takes for the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun (about 365 and 1/4 days). This means that each September equinox occurs about 6 hours later than the previous year's September Equinox. This eventually moves the date by a day.

As far as the leaves (take Dave Wooten’s poll), according to almanac.com, there’s an old weather proverb, “If autumn leaves are slow to fall, prepare for a cold winter.” Possibly leaves that hang onto the tree indicate a colder winter to come. Or, maybe there haven’t been very many windy days! The red and green seen in the fall leaves is actually present during spring and summer, but once the green is gone, you are able to see the other colors. It’s the sugar in the leaves that makes them turn color. If it’s very cold, however, it can kill this process within the leaf and the colors are not as visible. And, as almanac.com says, “drought conditions during late summer and early fall can trigger an early “shutdown” of trees as they prepare for winter, causing leaves to fall early from trees without reaching their full color potential.”

So now, hopefully you know more now than you did about the “Autumnal Equinox.”

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