(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Today, Saturday, September 22 brought a new season to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere: fall. At exactly 10:49 a.m. EDT, we (as Rene Lynch from the LATimes so quaintly put it) "turned over a new leaf."
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The autumn equinox is one of two in the year. It marks a point when the Earth's orbit and tilt line up directly with the sun.
"We have an equinox twice a year -- spring and fall -- when the tilt of the Earth's axis and Earth's orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun," says the website EarthSky.
This amounts to there being an equal amount of day and night; at least for a while until the Earth's axis and tilt go back to being out-of-sync with the sun's rays. According to Space.com, the notion that there is an equal amount of day and night is an oversimplification because it only "treats night as simply the time the sun is beneath the horizon, and completely ignores twilight."
The Earth usually operates at a 23.5 degree tilt away from the sun, and having it directly line up with the sun has been a fascination of humans throughout time.
As of now, the northern and southern hemispheres should be receiving an equal amount of sunlight. Don't expect this to last, however, since the Earth is constantly on the move and its axis and tilt in regards to the sun will change.
The Northern hemisphere's seasons go spring to summer to fall to winter, starting with roughly the beginning of the year. The Southern Hemisphere, however, ends up receiving a reverse order of the seasons compared to its northern brethren.