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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. ●

Cow­bury Reser­voir

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