The autumnal equinox — the official arrival of fall — occurs Thursday.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that during an equinox, the Sun crosses the “celestial equator” — an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line.
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun crosses the equator going from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the reverse.
The Almanac tells us that after the autumnal equinox, days become shorter than nights as the Sun continues to rise later and nightfall arrives earlier. This ends with the winter solstice, after which days start to grow longer once again.
The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, ”night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length.
While fall’s official arrival is still a day away, the I LOVE NY fall foliage reports are underway, with the first one logged this past week. Not much was reported to be happening, although there were some reports of “Just Changing” throughout the state, including in southwestern New York. The reports are compiled using the on-location field observations from more than 85 volunteer leaf spotters throughout the state’s 11 vacation regions.
The spotters track color changes in their area, detailing the prevalent leaf colors, approximate percentage of change and how much color change has progressed relative to peak conditions.
The reports also include an interactive foliage map, available on the I LOVE NY website, that tracks weekly changes and progression across the state throughout the season. The map includes recommended foliage viewing locations in each of the state’s vacation regions, plus examples of peak foliage in a given area and information about popular local and regional attractions.
A blog on the Enchanted Mountains website for Cattaraugus County — enchantedmountains.com — also gives fall foliage reports.