This year the September Equinox will occur in September 23. It’s an astronomical phenomenon marking the equinox or the middle of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. In September in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun shifts from spending its time more to the north of the equator to spending time more to the south of the equator. This change happens over an entire month, not just one day, and it marks many people’s changing perceptions of their seasons.
History of September Equinox
The September equinox usually occurs between September 21 and 24 every year. The dates are based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for practical purposes. While the equinox occurs at the exact moment in time worldwide, the date and local time differ from place to place depending on the year and a location’s time zone. For areas east of UTC, it may take place the day after, and for sites west of UTC, it may take place the day before.
The word equinox comes from Latin and means equal night. At the equinox, the day and the night are almost equal in length, as the Earth’s rotational axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the sun. Note that day and night will be different lengths at all other times. When viewed from the equator, the sun rises directly in the East and sets directly in the West on the equinox. Before the southward equinox when it rises more to the north, and after it when it rises more to the south.
The equinox is when day and night are the same lengths. In September, it heralds the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere or spring in the southern hemisphere. In astrology, the First Point of Libra is the point in space where the sun crosses the celestial equator, moving from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. However, due to a phenomenon known as precession, which causes a slow wobble in the Earth’s axis, this point is no longer within the constellation Libra; it has moved into Virgo.
September Equinox timeline
Chichén Itzá, a stone pyramid structure built by the Mayans, is used to mark the equinoxes twice a year — at sunset, based on the play of light and the shadows.
The Gregorian calendar is adopted as it is more accurate for calculating astronomical events such as the equinoxes than the French Republican Calendar used in France.
The Cahokia Woodhenge, a timber circle is uncovered at the Mississippian culture Cahokia archaeological site near Collinsville, Illinois, and is thought to be a solar calendar.
American author Aidan Kelley gives new names to six Sabbats of Celtic tradition and adds two holidays of his own: one based on the equinoxes.
September Equinox FAQs
Can the equinox affect your mood?
Some animals, including people, experience winter blues in response to increasing light levels.
Is the equinox still celebrated in modern times?
Yes, it is. This celebration has become important for modern pagans, who consider it a time for spiritual renewal and self-reflection.
What does the equinox mean spiritually?
The equinox is thought to represent a struggle between darkness and light, death and life.
September Equinox Activities
Make a gratitude list
The autumnal equinox is a time to harvest apples, pumpkins, and our inner good. Make a list of everything you are thankful for to reap your inner harvest. Such an attitude brings abundance into your life.
Visit a local farm
Visit your local farm or your local farmer's market in search of seasonal fall foods. The foods you should be on the lookout for include corn, squash, zucchini, and pumpkins.
Serve a fall harvest meal
If a Pagan Thanksgiving is your thing, prepare a traditional Mabon harvest meal and host a family feast. Or, for a more environmentally friendly option, celebrate the arrival of fall with an all-vegetarian menu.
5 Facts About September Equinox
The September Equinox and astrology
On the September equinox, the sun enters Libra and in astrology, Libra is known as the sign of balanced scales.
Different year, different day
September 22—24 is when the equinox happens and the last time it happened on the 21 was in 1931.
Changes in the animal world
The September Equinox is a subtle cue to animals in the Northern Hemisphere to start preparing for hibernation.
The Celestial Equator
At the September equinox, the sun crosses the celestial equator, an imaginary line that runs from the equator on Earth out into space.
Celebrations at Stonehenge
Druids gather at Stonehenge in the U.K. to enjoy music, stories, and the changing seasons to honor the September Equinox.
Why We Love September Equinox
It represents the beginning of fall
In many countries, people celebrate the September Equinox because it represents the beginning of the fall season. It's a time when we see ourselves as part of nature or the universe and look at our lives from a different perspective.
It is farmer's harvest
This month's full moon is called the Harvest Moon. When farmers needed light to harvest crops, the Harvest Moon came around.
It is a traditional celebration
Many cultures have traditional ways of celebrating the September Equinox. Some observe it as a time when the gods go on vacation or have their festivals marking the end of summer and the start of the fall season.
September Equinox dates