THIS year the autumn equinox falls on September 23. The name equinox means ‘equal night’ in Latin.
It’s theoretically 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 autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere always falls on September 22, 23 or 24.
It is a time to recognise that the balance of the year has changed, the wheel has turned and summer is now over.
Astrologers will recognise this as the date the sun enters the sign of Libra – the Scales of Balance.
Greek mythology has the story of Persephone and the Seasons, which describes how Hades kidnaps Persephone because she ate a few seeds and banished her to the underworld.
Fortunately Zeus sent a messenger and, with some persuasion, Hades agrees to let Persephone emerge for half the year and this is why there is six months of light and six months’ darkness.
People living in the South Pole will be experiencing the first sighting of sunlight in six months, as the September equinox marks the first day of spring for them.
But residents in the North Pole will be marking the beginning of six months of darkness.
In order to make more accurate comparisons of seasonal weather from year to year, meteorologists divide the seasons into four three-month periods and say that autumn begins on September 1
You can look for signs of the equinox in nature.
The knowledge that summer is gone, and winter is coming, is everywhere now, in the Northern Hemisphere.
You can easily notice the later dawns and earlier sunsets.
Also notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day.
You’ll find it’s shifting toward the south.
Birds and butterflies are migrating southward, too, along with the path of the sun.
The shorter days are bringing cooler weather. A chill is in the air. Creatures of the wild are putting on their winter coats.
All around us, trees and plants are ending this year’s cycle of growth.
Perhaps they are responding with glorious autumn leaves, or a last burst of bloom before winter comes.
On the morning of equal night and day, enjoy a short walk in Cowbury Dale Local Nature Reserve looking for wildlife preparing for autumn.
Meet John Courtman, Tameside Greenspace officer at 8am at Castle Clough car park, Buckton Vale Road, Carrbrook, Stalybridge, SK15 3PJ.
For more information ring 0161 342 3055. ●