Equinox arrives, as always, in perfect time

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2023

By Steve Stricker

This past Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1:49 a.m. as most of us slept, Mother Nature silently ushered in Fall (Autumnal Equinox). The sun traversed the equator heading south, zero degrees tilt, shined directly on the equator, and then rose due east out my front door in South Oaks. 

My house, like my birth home in southern Missouri, faces due east (comforting in its familiar orientation). Looking out the front door at times the sun is straight east. 

Email newsletter signup

The earth rotates counterclockwise every 24 hours, and orbits counterclockwise around the Sun taking 365 days. The moon orbits the Earth counterclockwise every 29 and a half days, while in the center, it takes the sun 25 days to spin or rotate counterclockwise a full turn.

An equinox occurs twice a year – March and September –  when the sun shines directly on the equator.  The word is derived from Latin “aequus” (equal) and “nox” (night) and means “equal night” the length of night and day are nearly the same (12 hours).

When the sun crosses the equator going back north,  March (Spring vernal) Equinox  the first day of spring will officially begin on Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at 10:06 p.m., earth zero tilt from the sun, and the sun will again be due east out my front door.

From Saturday’s Autumnal Equinox, the sun will continue moving south until Dec. 21 at 9:27 p.m. when Winter Solstice, or first day of winter, when the Earth’s tilt is 23.5 degrees away from the sun, and reaches its lowest point in the sky – the shortest day of the year and the furthest south it will travel.

Then, like on a giant rubber band, it will stop, rebound back north until the Summer Solstice, or first day of summer on Tuesday, June 20, 2024 at 3:50 p.m., when the Earth’s tilt is again 23.5 degrees.

The word solstice derived from Latin (sol) and (sistere – “to stand still”) because the sun appears to stand still as it stops at either the northern or southern limit before reversing direction – and when the sun is at its lowest of the year in the south and highest in the north. 

I used to love hot sweaty summers, now prefer winter because I got bloody tired of sweating buckets while mowing, working on my cars,  and for the first time ever the last several years embraced winter.

By welcoming winter, like lunch hour, it flew by and Saturday’s Autumnal Equinox is a harbinger of cool weather to come and solstice of yard work.

There aren’t many things in this life that we can always count on, but God and Mother Nature are spot on. God is always there for us, and the sun will rise tomorrow. 

Go Rebels.

Steve Stricker lives in Oxford, received a PH.D. in counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at sstricker@olemiss.edu.