Are you ready for fall? It’s coming in September 2021. I can’t wait to watch the leaves change colors and to dig my sweaters out of my closet. September 22nd is the first day of Astronomical Autumn, or the Autumn Equinox. September 1st is the first day of Meteorological Fall, while Labor Day on September 6th marks the unofficial end of Summer in the United States. The Autumn Equinox is defined as:
The intersection of the celestial equator and the sun’s ecliptic pathway in it’s southern descent towards the tropic of Capricorn. At this time, the Earth’s axial tilt is facing neither toward nor away from the sun, and there is approximately 12 hours of daylight and nighttime (at the equator).
This sounds technical, but it only means that during the Earth’s uneven orbit, it is halfway between its high point and its low point. The sun is directly shining on the Equator, in the middle. During its high point, the Summer Solstice, the sun is most powerful on the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. During its low point, the Winter Solstice, the sun’s most direct rays are on the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. During the Vernal (Spring) and Autumn (Fall) Equinoxes, the Equator experiences 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night time.
Meteorological Seasons, on the other hand, are based on the calendar. According to NOAA, meteorological seasons are the result of research into climate and weather history. September, October, and November have more similar weather patterns than September 22nd – December 21st. Additionally, these seasons better match our current calendar.
The closest Full Moon to the Autumn Equinox is known as the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon typically appears brighter, larger, and orange-tinted. The moon rises much quicker than usual, leading to a bright night that farm workers can utilize to continue the Harvest into the evening. According to EarthSky, this happens because the Moon has the lowest orbit of the year as viewed from the Earth. The atmosphere is thicker and more water saturated near the horizon, which causes the Moon to appear larger and red orange.
More Highlights for September 2021:
- Autumn Equinox on September 22nd
- Aurigids Meteor Shower on Sept 1st
- Eta-Perdeids Meteor Shower on Sept 9th
- Neptune at Opposition on Sept 14th
- Harvest Moon on Sept 20th
- Sextantids Meteor Shower on Sept 27th
And there’s plenty more! Check out the Glossary of Astronomical Events if you need any explanations.
First Day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere!
September 22nd, 2021
First Quarter Moon|
Third Quarter Moon|
All times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST) or Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT).
|Moon Name:||Harvest Moon, Corn Moon|
* For the East Coast of the United States
Greatest Eastern Elongation
Ideal time to view planet
Ideal time to view planet
Associated with folklore
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