All hail Boreas! God of the north wind and harbinger of sweater weather!
EQUINOX vs. SOLSTICE
Equinoxes (Latin for “equal night”) occur in Fall and Spring, and solstices happen in Summer and Winter. During an equinox, the sun’s rays are closest to the equator, during a solstice they’re at their farthest away.
The equinox lasts for only a single minute. Yup, just one minute!
Eastern Daylight Time: 9:54 PM
Central Daylight Time: 8:54 PM
Mountain Daylight Time: 7:54 PM
Mountain Standard Time (Arizona): 6:54 PM
Pacific Daylight Time: 6:54 PM
Alaska Daylight Time: 5:54 PM
Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time: 3:54 PM
It’s during this minute that the sun will cross Earth’s equator (North to South) and everywhere in the world will experience a day and night that will last the exact same amount of time… 12 hours. Why? Because the Fall equinox is the one time a year that the earth’s axis is, for just a moment, perfectly perpendicular. This marks the change in seasons, because after this perfect minute when the sun passes directly over the equator, the days become shorter, the nights longer, and the jet stream shifts, ushering in sweater weather!
I’M YOUR VENUS, I’M YOUR FIRE, YOUR DESIRE…
You know that little jingle from the shaving commercials? Well, during the fall equinox Venus becomes the brightest object in the sky. So, pop open some pink champagne, or a delicious sparkling apple cider, and snuggle up for some primo stargazing.
THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE
Chaco Canyon (on the border between Utah and Colorado) is one of the best spots in the U.S. to watch the Equinox. Fajada Butte, to be specific, is home to ancient carvings that are perfectly positioned to capture the light at the exact moment of the yearly equinoxes and solstices.
The Cahokia Mounds in Illinois are another spot to witness this natural phenomena. Here you’ll find a prehistoric structure, often referred to as “Woodhenge”, that was constructed by the Natchez peoples, a sun-worshipping tribe. It is a series of circular cedar posts that serve to mark the equinoxes and solstices.
Lastly, Hovenweep Castle, also on the Colorado-Utah border, is a southwestern settlement that was used between 1200 and 1300 AD to track the sun’s movements. You can find these ruins along the Trail of the Ancients.
Demeter, Goddess of Harvest (Photo by Rachel Adams via Flickr)