The Science Behind Equinoxes and Solstices

Aaron Shapiro

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If you have noticed recently, the weather has gotten significantly colder in the past month. We have entered Autumn, or as most of us call it, “Fall”. 

Most of us have noticed the trees start to change color and lose their leaves. The wind has increased, and the sun doesn’t rise as early. On September 23rd, the Equinox happened. Everyone in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere had the exact amount of day and night. Though, it did not last very long. Why, you ask? Well, that’s what I’m about to tell you. 

To start off, what is an Equinox? An Equinox is an astronomical occurrence caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis. Our planet does not orbit the sun upright, instead at a precise 23.5 degrees on its axis. The Northern and Southern Hemisphere essentially trade places during our year-long orbit around our sun. Although at this Equinox time period, the North and South Hemisphere are equal. For a period of time, both hemispheres have equal days and nights. This does not last long because the Earth is in constant motion. This is the beginning of Autumn. Though that isn’t the only time this happens. It happens twice a year. The other Equinox is on March 20th. The same occurrence happens. Both of the Hemispheres are tilted in a way that they have equal nights and days. 

Sometimes I stay up at night and think about random questions that I am too lazy to ask. For example, what is the difference between an Equinox and a Solstice? Well, now I can tell you! An Equinox is the time period in which both hemispheres have equal nights and days. A solstice, on the other hand, is the point at which the sun reaches the highest or lowest point in our sky. These solstices occur twice a year as well. Once in the winter and once in the summer. The featured image shows the difference between an Equinox and a Solstice.  I hope that you learned something new. If you want to learn even more about this topic, then go to weather.gov/cle/Seasons.