The 2016 September equinox comes today, September 22, at 7:21 AM PDT. At that instant the midday sun will shine straight overhead at the equator in Africa, near the Kenya/Somalia border signaling the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and of spring in the southern hemisphere. Seasons are opposite on either side of the equator, so the equinox in September is also known as the Autumnal (fall) equinox in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it’s known as the Spring (vernal) equinox.
An equinox occurs twice a year, occurring around March 20/21 and September 22/23 each year, marking the first day of spring and the first day of autumn. As we spin around the sun each year tilting towards one axis or the other there are two moments in time when the earth stands up straight, tilting neither to the north or the south, and the center of the Sun is aligned with the Earth’s equator. This moment is time is referred to as an equinox from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night. On this day the night and day are approximately the same length of time.
“I am rich today with autumn’s gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field
With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,
Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold
The streams running full of molten gold.
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!”
– Gladys Harp