Seasonal Change in the Merrimack Valley

The autumnal equinox heralds the start of Fall which in 2012 begins here in the Northern Hemisphere today September 22 at 10:49 A.M. EDT.

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator. The daylight hours are dwindling now and will continue to do so until we reach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays, fall and harvest festivals around the Autumn Equinox. People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure of the summer season and the coming of a possibly long winter.

In just a week look for the Harvest Moon! In traditional sky-lore, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. Since we will experience the autumnal equinox on September 22 – the full moon for us in the U.S. will come on the night of September 29. That makes the September 29-30 full moon the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is surrounded by a powerful mystique that sees it as the largest, brightest – nearly orange or pumpkin-like in color – a beacon for bringing in the crops, for inspiring romance or pondering the Universe.

Locally, we too are anticipating the activities of fall – the changing season. Along with the return to school, the walks, food festivals, cemetery tours, apple-picking and the like, we are knee-deep in civic duty and awareness as we absorb the chatter of campaigns and mull the choices before us. It’s an exciting time!