ANDautumn quinoxhere we are: although it doesn’t seem like it, given the temperatures, summer officially ends tomorrow Saturday September 23rda day in which the hours of light and darkness will have more or less the same duration at every point on the Earth’s surface.
Autumn equinox: goodbye summer
Usually, we are used to saying goodbye to summer on September 21st, but the date of the spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices do not always fall on exactly the same day of the year. This happens because Earth doesn’t take exactly 365 days to complete its orbit around the Sun, it actually takes 365,256. In doing so, however, the dates of equinoxes and solstices must necessarily vary from year to year, sliding or anticipating. Therefore this year the autumnal equinox is September 23rd and in 2024 it will be September 22nd.
Day and night the same duration
During the autumnal equinox, as anticipated, the 24 hours are divided almost precisely between day and night. It is the moment in which the Sun shines directly on the equator and during which the two terrestrial hemispheres, the southern and the northern, receive the same hours of light. This happens in March (vernal equinox) and September (autumnal equinox). In reverse, on the days of the solstice, respectively in summer and winterone of the two polar circles remains dark for 24 hours, while at the other end of the Earth the Sun does not set until the following day.
What changes with the autumn equinox
As is already evident, the days are getting shorter: the process began from the summer solstice and will continue to go on until winter solstice that falls the December 21st and that it is the shortest day of the year. Since then the days will start to get longer again until June 21st, the summer solstice and longest day of the year.
Once astronomical doubts have been removed, the September equinox also coincides with many mystical and non-mystical traditions. In Greek mythology, for example, autumn it was considered a good time to implement rituals for protection and safetyas well as reflect on the successes or failures of the previous months.
In Japan during the September and March equinoxes, Buddhist schools observe a named holiday week Higan, a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.
And finally, it is impossible not to mention Stonehenge. This megalithic circle, dating back 4,600 years ago, is located on the Salisbury Plain, south of England and is the focus of the mysteries linked to the solstice and equinox. The stones that compose it are, in fact, aligned in correspondence with the points where the Sun rises on those days.
For this reason, it has been hypothesized that the site was an ancient astronomical observatory even if there is no certainty about its meaning. The men who built it, in fact, left no clear indications of its purpose. And for this reason that mysterious place has long stimulated and continues to stimulate the interest of archaeologists, writers and simple tourists.
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