Fall arrives today! But what exactly happens on the equinox?

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Get ready for hay rides, apple picking, and pumpkin spice becoming more socially acceptable, because fall officially arrives today!

At approximately 3:30 P.M. on September 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun’s rays will align directly over the equator providing us with approximately equal amounts of day and night. The equinox is defined by the position of the Earth and the sun at a particular moment in time. In this case, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres receive about the same amount of daylight and darkness.

The first day of Fall is also known as the autumn equinox, where the phrase “equinox” in latin means equal day and night. This happens twice a year, the second time in the spring and is known as the vernal equinox.

The reason for the seasons? It’s because of the the earth’s path and the changing tilt towards and away from the sun.

The fall equinox doesn’t always fall on the same day every year. This is because the length of a calendar year (365 days) is not the same as the time it takes for Earth to make one full revolution around the sun (365.25) days. Adding the leap year helps keeps thing slightly more consistent, causing the equinox to fall on either the 21st or 22nd of September each year.

Did you know? Rochester will actually see about 12 hours and 9 minutes of daylight today. The reason we don’t get exactly the same amount of night and day on the equinoxes comes from the way we measure sunrises and sunsets, and effect of the refraction (bending) of light in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Even though the actual position of the sun may line up precisely, the bending of the sun’s light in our atmosphere causes the sun to appear over the horizon even when the actual position of the sun is below it. This gives the northern hemisphere slightly more daylight since it takes the sun longer to rise and set the closer you get to the poles. The closest we get to equal parts day and night happens a few days later on the September 25th with 12 hours and 26 seconds of daylight.

Fall Equinox Myths

MYTH: Your shadow disappears on the Fall Equinox

In order for you to not cast any shadow, you would need the sun to be directly over your head as you stand at the equator at exactly 12 P.M. noon. So odds are, you’ll still have a shadow on the day of the equinox.

MYTH: You can only balance a broom and an egg on the equinoxes

You can get both a broom and an egg to balance with a lot of patience and luck, but it does not have anything to do with the “planets aligning” a certain way, or the center of gravity becoming just so. Either way, test your skills and give it a try!

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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