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The Autumn Equinox

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Today is the autumn equinox, the day when day and night are momentarily the same length. In practise this is not the case because sunlight bends as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere, this actually gives us a few extra seconds of daylight in the morning (when you can see the sun rise before it really does) and in the evening (when we can still see it setting after it's actually set).


A wonderful phenomenon also appears at night about this time of year.

An hour or so before sunrise, a faint glow shaped like a cone or triangle towers up from the eastern horizon. It is called the zodiacal light and shines in a really dark location well away from any light pollution, but can look so impressive it is easily mistaken for daybreak, and is often called the false dawn. As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his short story False Dawn: “The moon was low down, and there was just the glimmer of the false dawn that comes about an hour before the real one. But the light was very faint . . .”

So long as the skies stay clear, tonight should give ideal viewing conditions for the zodiacal light because the Moon will not interfere with it.

This strange, ethereal glow lights up the plane of the solar system, along which the planets travel around the Sun. Useful markers are Venus shining bright and a fainter Mars in the pre-dawn sky. The zodiacal light also gives a fascinating glimpse into the solar system’s origins. It is created by sunlight reflected off clouds of dust floating in space between the planets — the debris left over from the formation of the solar system more than 4 billion years ago.


Yesterday, 21st September was also St Matthews day and there are several old weather lores that appear at this time of year:

St Matthew bring on the cold dew

St Matthew, shut up the bee

Matthews day bright and clear, brings good winde

Most St Matthew day lore and rhymes are concerned with the approach of colder weather and the first frosts of Autumn:

A Southerly wind on September the twenty first, indicates that the rest of the winter will be warm

Of course, like all old rhymes and weather lore, it is mostly superstition - or is it? :doh:

Link to equinoxes and solstices

Ways of marking the equinox in the modern world

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It all goes to show that, my god! hasnt this year gone so fast?....we're now entering the last quarter of the year, its time for panicked thoughts of Woolly hats, scarfs, & if you're indoors, slippers and consuming large quantities of mulled wine!

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