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AUTUMNAL EQUINOX

Summer leaves, autumn falls Sept. 22

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Fall officially begins with the autumnal equinox at 1:20 p.m. MDT Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Equinox comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, “night.” On the equinox, therefore, day and night should be about equal in length. On Sept. 22, there will, in fact, be 12 hours, seven minutes and 20 seconds of daylight and 11 hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds of night, according to www.timeanddate.com. (Day and night are almost exactly equal Sept. 27, only missing perfect balance by 17 seconds.)

During the equinox, the sun crosses the celestial equator, an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space, according to www.almanac.com. “The equinox occurs precisely when the sun’s center passes through this line. When the sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.”

The full moon closest to the fall equinox is called the harvest moon. This year, that comes two days before the equinox, at 5:54 p.m. MDT Monday, Sept. 20.

In case you’re wondering, daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 7.

autumnal equinox