Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. The new season officially begins at 9:54 PM Eastern Daylight Time.
The astronomical seasons, as opposed to the meteorological seasons, are a product of Earth’s axial tilt – a 23.5° angle – and the movement of the planet around the sun. During the autumn months, the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun. This position distributes the sun’s energy equally between the northern and southern hemispheres.
Since the summer solstice in June, the arc of the sun’s apparent daily passage across the sky has been sinking and daylight hours have been decreasing. Today, the sun appears directly overhead at the equator and we have approximately equal hours of day and night. The word “equinox” is derived from Latin and means “equal night”.
Transitioning from summer to winter, autumn is also a season of falling temperatures. According to NOAA, the average high temperature in most US cities drops about 10°F between September and October.