Photo Credit: pixdaus
Summer is fun, for sure, but the classic ski town mantra holds true to most of us; summer is a bummer. Here at Unofficial Networks we hope you’ve all had a nice summer after our collectively huge winters coast-to coast, but with many mountain regions already getting their first taste of that addicting white stuff, fall is officially here, and the 2011-2012 ski season is about to get underway.
It’s interesting to us that in ski culture, “ski season” is often thought of as a winter thing. This comes in the face of the fact that often, the best skiing of the season comes in spring, and usually, the first turns of a given season happen in the fall. Once Labor Day has come and gone, most people feel summer is done. But once the Autumn Equinox drops, it’s really on!
Photo Credit: drummingthesoulawake.com
A few questions about the Autumn Equinox answered by timeanddate.com
What happens during the September equinox?
The sun crosses the celestial equator and moves southward in the northern hemisphere during the September equinox. The location on the earth where the sun is directly overhead at solar noon is known as the subsolar point. The subsolar point occurs on the equator during the September equinox and March equinox. At that time, the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun. This is the time when many people believe that the earth experiences 12 hours of day and night. However, this is not exactly the case.
Dispelling the “exactly 12 hours of daylight” myth
During the equinox, the length of night and day across the world is nearly, but not entirely, equal. This is because the day is slightly longer in places that are further away from the equator, and because the sun takes longer to rise and set in these locations. Furthermore, the sun takes longer to rise and set farther from the equator because it does not set straight down – it moves in a horizontal direction.
Moreover, there is an atmospheric refraction that causes the sun’s disk to appear higher in the sky than it would if earth had no atmosphere. timeanddate.com has a more detailed explanation on this topic. timeanddate.com has more information on why day and night are not exactly of equal length during the equinoxes.
Photo Credit: vibrakeys.com
Why is the equinox date not the same each year?
While the September equinox occurs on September 22 in 2008 and 2009, it occurs on September 23 in 2010 and 2011 (UTC). The September equinox has also occurred on September 24(UTC), with the last occurrence on that date being 1931. The next time a September 24 equinox occurs will be in the year 2303. Moreover, a September 21 equinox will occur in 2092.
There are a few explanations on why the equinox dates differ in the Gregorian calendar. The varying dates of the equinox are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar, which has 365 days in a year, or 366 days in a leap year. According to the National Maritime Museum, the equinoxes generally occur about six hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years. An extra day is added in a leap year to minimize a gradual drift of the equinox date through the seasons.
As for the tropical year, it is approximately 365.242199 days, but varies from year to year because of the influence of other planets. A tropical year is the length of time that the sun takes to return to the same position in the cycle of seasons, as seen from earth. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the earth’s axis (precession), also contributes to the changing solstice dates.
So without the help of the revered Dr. Kaye, what does this all mean?
It means the days are going to get shorter and shorter, as well as colder and colder, and before you know it, skiing will not be a day-dream anymore. Rather, it will become the lived reality many of us live for. September is a little early, as is October, but it’s already been snowing in Utah, and there’s already been legit turns had in Colorado.
Get ready people, look at the weather reports, it’s coming soon, and 2011-2012 is gonna be huge!