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Autumnal Equinox: 5 Things To Know About The First Day Of Fall

Thu, September 22, 2016 9:58am EDT by 1 Comment

Brrr-r-r-r! Say good-bye to summer and hello to fall, as Sept. 22 marks the first day of autumn! Along with colder temperatures, the season also brings the Autumnal Equinox. For those asking ‘what IS the Autumnal Equinox,’ here’s all the info you need to know.

1. It all has to do with the Sun.

Despite what many think, the first day of fall doesn’t start when pumpkin spice returns to the stores. The season kicks off with the autumnal equinox, or when the sun travels straight across the celestial equator, per The Earth rotates on an axis that’s titled at 23.5 degrees with respect to its orbital plane, meaning that for the first half of the year, the sun rises and sets more in the northern hemisphere. After Sept. 22, it’s the southern hemisphere’s turn to have a summer.

2. It kicks off around the middle of the morning for East Coasters.

The autumnal equinox officially arrives at 10:21 A.M. EDT (around 7:21 A.M. for those living on the west coast.) So, after the first morning coffee and right before The Price Is Right begins, the first day of fall will kick off!

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3. The actual, legit “equinox” happens later.

“Equinox” comes from Latin, meaning “equal night,” according to National Geographic. So the Autumnal Equinox is supposed to be the day that there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. However, on Sept. 22, the sun rises in 6:44 A.M. EDT and sets at 6:52 P.M. EDT. What gives? Don’t worry. The actual 12-hour day/night balance happens on Sept. 25, when the sun comes up at 6:47 A.M. and sets at 6:47 P.M.

4. This was a big deal – for ancient cultures.

Historically, the changing of the seasons was pretty important to cultures all around the world. The Mayans were all about celebrating the equinox, as the El Castillo pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico proves this. During sunset during an equinox, the light hits the staircase at the exactly right angle to create a snake-like shape that slithers along the pyramid’s length. Creepy! But that’s also kind of cool.

5. It was also a big deal for Google.

The Autumnal Equinox has a twin – the Vernal Equinox, which marks the first day of spring. When the Vernal Equinox happened on March 20, the Google put up a Google Doodle featuring cartoon rocks happy that a sapling was in bloom.

For the first day of fall, the very same rock buddies were back, celebrating that their young tree’s leaves were turning orange and brown! Sweet. It seems Google’s excited for autumn, much like the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

Are you excited for the first day of fall, HollywoodLifers? Is this your favorite time of year?