The September Equinox Is Here, Learn What It Is

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Equinox, the Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west

The name equinox means "equal night" in Latin. There are two equinoxes every year - around 20 March and 23 September. Theoretically, it is the day of the year when all points on the earth's surface experience the same lengths of daylight and darkness - 12 hours of each. The September equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator - the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's Equator - from north to south. Since the seasons are opposite on either side of the Equator, 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.

The equinox occurs because the earth moves in two different ways. First, it spins on its polar axis, a line through the north and south poles, causing the alternation of day and night every day and secondly, it moves in its orbit around the sun once in every 365.25 days. The equinox occurs when these two motions intersect.

Equinoxes do not occur on the same day every year. Generally, it occurs about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years. The dates for 2016 equinoxes are: March 20 and September 22.

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