Monday, September 29, 2014

THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX IS HERE

This column is being written on the day of the September Equinox. In Saskatchewan, or more specifically…Regina, the precise time of the Autumnal Equinox is Monday, September 22 at 8:29 PM Central Standard Time. That is the exact time that “fall” begins.


I suppose that at some point in my life I was taught what the Autumnal Equinox really means, other than the fact that it’s the official end of summer and the start of autumn, but I can’t really recall all of the particulars so I looked it up and it’s kind of interesting. So get ready for a bit of a science lesson here.

“Equinox” literally means “equal night”, giving the impression that the night and day on the equinox are exactly the same length, but that’s not entirely true. It’s close but not exact. On this day in Regina the Sun rose at 6:45am and will set at 6:56pm giving us 12hours and 11 minutes of daylight. That’s about as close as we’ll get to an even split.

On any other day of the year, the Earth’s axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the two equinoxes, the Earth’s axis tilts neither away from or towards the Sun. The equinoxes occur the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator-the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator. This happens in March and September every year.

Equinoxes are opposite on either side of the equator, so the autumnal (fall) equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is the spring (vernal) equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. Make sense? Hope so.

So, there you have it, the scientific explanation of when and why the spring and fall seasons officially change.

Mother Nature, on the other hand, doesn’t always comply with these equinox timetables to give us “seasonal” type weather, though. Sometimes, as her schizophrenic personality is wont to do, she will just as easily give us a snowstorm as a heat wave at this time of the year and I’ve seen my share of both. This year they are predicting a heat wave and I couldn’t be happier. Bring it on!

Equinox or no equinox there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be done this fall. I don’t know about you but I didn’t get all of my summer fun in so I’m hoping for a nice long warm fall. There are still golf balls yet to be hit…numerous times, of course…the non-ending yard chores need to get done and I’d much prefer to do these types of activities while wearing short sleeves as opposed to toques and mitts. But time will tell.

As so many of “the glass is half empty” types were so anxious to point out back on June 22nd that “the days are getting shorter” it is no surprise that we will be losing more and more daylight as we move toward the inevitable December solstice. While we cannot change that fact, I, for one, will be doing my utmost to make the most of these dying daylight hours.

“Ho! For the leaves that eddy down, Crumpled yellow and withered brown, Hither and yonder and up the street And trampled under the passing feet; Swirling, billowing, drifting by, With a whisper soft and rustling sigh, Starting aloft to windy ways, Telling the coming of bonfire days.” Grace Strickler Dawson.

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