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Utah Skies: Autumnal Equinox

Tom Westre

Fall arrived in Utah this morning at 7:31 am Mountain Time. This is called the Autumnal Equinox. The word “equinox” is Latin and means “equal and “nox” means “night.” For a few days the time between Sunrise and Sunset is about 12 hours and the days and nights will just about be equal.

There are two Equinoxes, spring and fall, caused by the Earth’s tilt on its axis as it orbits the Sun. In the case of the Equinoxes the Earth’s axis is tilted neither away nor toward the Sun. At this time both of Earth’s hemispheres receive the Sun’s ray’s equally.

At this time the Sun crossed the equator from north to south. If you are on the equator the Sun would be directly over you.

The Sun will rise due east and set due west. This is a great opportunity to find due east and due west from your yard by watching the rising and setting sun along the horizon in relation to familiar landmarks. As the days and months pass note where the Sun rises and sets in relation to that east and west point on the horizon.

From now on, until the winter solstice in December, the Sun will move southward each day and the days will get shorter and shorter while the nights grow longer and longer.

The Sun will get lower and lower in the sky and the temperature will cool down from the hot summer days.

We see this change as we now have later sunrises and earlier sunsets.

Here in Northern Utah we see the trees in the mountains rapidly changing colors.

This is a great time to take a drive up to the mountains and enjoy the beauty of the changes in the season.