As the Earth continues on its endless course around the sun, we're coming up on another important event. The autumnal equinox for 2016 is coming up on September 22. So here's everything you need to know about the date.
The date of the autumnal equinox varies slightly from year to year, sometimes falling on September 22 and sometimes on the 23rd. The exact moment of the equinox happens when the sun crosses the celestial equator, meaning that neither the Northern or Southern Hemisphere are tilting towards the sun. The time varies based on time zone, but if you're on Eastern Time, it happens this year at 10:21am. However, no matter where you are in the world, the equinox means that day and night are almost exactly the same length, an almost perfect 12 hours apiece.
There have been lots of traditional about the September equinox throughout history, and today it's used in the astronomical division of the seasons to mark the beginning of fall for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, because the Northern Hemisphere is beginning to tilt further away from the sun. And it's the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere because that half of the globe is beginning to tilt further towards the sun. And both those seasons will continue until the December Solstice, at least astronomically speaking.
So if it seems to you like the days are getting a lot shorter, or as though the weather is starting to get more fall-like, you're not wrong! Fall is right around the corner, in fact. And after September, the nights will officially be longer than the days once again.
At least until the Spring Equinox next March.
So enjoy the last few days of extra sunshine while they last, and get excited for the new season to officially begin.