The smell of autumn is already in the air in Vancouver as temperatures dip and leaves start to change colour. But it’s not officially the autumn season in the Northern hemisphere until the September equinox. Find out when the fall equinox 2023 is, what it means, and how it’s related to the Harvest Moon.
The term equinox derives from the Latin words for equal (aequus) and night (nox) and refers to how on the fall and spring equinox, the day and night are almost equal in length. Every autumn the days get shorter starting from this date. The fall equinox is also commonly known as the autumnal equinox.
While the winter and summer solstices mark the shortest and longest days of the year, respectively, the equinoxes mark the onset of spring and fall when the duration of day and night is almost the same.
The 2023 fall equinox occurs shortly before midnight (PDT) on Friday, September 22 in Vancouver. The exact moment an equinox happens is when the Sun is directly above the equator when the Earth is tilted neither toward nor away from the Sun.
On this date, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres will enjoy the same amount of daylight. After this day, you will notice the daylight hours gradually decreasing until the winter solstice, which will be the shortest day of the year.
For astronomy lovers, this is an exciting time to admire the first full moon of autumn. The full moon that happens closest to the fall equinox is known as the Harvest Moon, and this year it will be rising on September 28 and reach its peak in the early morning hours of September 29.
The name “Harvest Moon” is believed to have come from farmers who made use of the extended bright moonlight for several nights during the fall equinox to harvest their crops before the change of the season. This was a great help back when there was no electricity to illuminate the fields after dark!
While the Harvest Moon may not have so much practical use for us now, it is still a beautiful astronomical event to enjoy. Assuming the weather cooperates, all you need to do to enjoy the Harvest Moon in 2023 is to head outside in an open area with an unobstructed view of the horizon and look towards the East shortly after sunset. If you can get to a hilltop in an area away from light pollution, you will be rewarded with a better view.
Now that you know about the fall equinox, it’s time to prepare for cooler weather and less sunlight. Get out your favourite scarves and boots and keep an eye out for the leaves changing colour. If you’re looking for fun things to do in the cooler weather and interested in learning more about the fascinating world of space, be sure to visit us at the Space Centre.