In the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox comes at 9:49 CDT today, September 22. It marks the beginning of fall and a time when day and night are equal (from the Latin words aequus “equal” and nox “night”). Well, sort of equal. If you look at the time for sunrise in your area and then look at the time for sunset, you’ll notice that it doesn’t add up to exactly 12 hours of daylight. The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains it this way:
On the equinoxes, the very center of the Sun sets just 12 hours after it rises. But the day begins when the upper edge of the Sun reaches the horizon (which happens a bit before the center rises), and it doesn’t end until the entire Sun has set. Not only that, but the Sun is actually visible when it is below the horizon, as Earth’s atmosphere refracts the Sun’s rays and bends them in an arc over the horizon. According to our former astronomer, George Greenstein, “If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.'”
Here’s a short and sweet article on the autumnal equinox from timeanddate.com: September Equinox.
Here’s a slightly longer, but quick to read article at EarthSky.org: Everything you need to know: September equinox 2012.
And here’s an interesting and informative article with charts from the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post: Autumnal equinox bring first day of fall Saturday morning.
This website features a NASA video showing an autumnal equinox from space: Our Amazing Planet.
And if you scroll down at this Huffington Post page, you’ll see a link to a live map of sunlight on the earth.
If you want to see the earth’s position at the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, as well as the winter and summer solstices, check out the graphic at eSky’s Autumnal Equinox page.
I love to say “Autumnal Equinox,” but I also love thinking about it. Why? Because it reminds me that God is a God of order who causes the seasons to come and go in their appointed times with precise regularity. He created the sun and the earth and controls their relationship with each other. Just as he keeps the earth spinning straight on its axis today, he keeps my life from spinning out of control.
Do you feel as if you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? Do busyness and stress make you feel like things are spinning out of control? Hit the pause button of your thoughts and take time to praise God for creation’s rhythm. Extol him for creating a complex, but orderly cosmos. Thank him for continuing to control all things so you don’t have to. Rest in the Lord!