Autumnal Equinox 2013

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. The new season officially arrives at 20:44 UTC (4:44 PM EDT) when the sun is directly in line with the Earth’s equator.

Seasons are the result of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, a 23.5° angle. Today, as autumn begins, the planet’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun. As a result, we receive approximately equal hours of day and night. Derived from Latin, the word “equinox” literally means “equal night”.

As a transitional season, autumn is a time when the heat of summer fades away and the chill of winter gradually returns. The largest drop in average temperature, however, usually lags the equinox by a few weeks.

Autumnal Equinox.  Image Credit: Image Credit: Przemyslaw “Blueshade” Idzkiewicz

The angle of the sun’s rays hitting the Earth on the Autumnal Equinox.

Image Credit: Przemyslaw “Blueshade” Idzkiewicz