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Posts Tagged ‘equinox’

Seasonal Disorder

Today was the first day of autumn, also known in astronomy as the autumnal equinox, when the sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south and day and night are virtually equal in length. Autumn, or fall, as it applies to the northern hemisphere, conjures up all sorts of images, most of them based on the topography and climate of Canada and the northeastern and central parts of the United States, which is to say vibrantly colored leaves, warm days and cool nights, several major holidays, back to school activities and a swirl of social events. Even in more temperate climates, the quality as well as the quantity of the light changes incrementally. The angle of the sun shifts and the days are indeed shorter. In truth, we are shielded for a time from the depressing experience of leaving work in total darkness; daylight savings time, which continues into November this year, allows us a glimpse at the sun’s dying embers as we board the train. Conversely, we wake to darkness, as do our kids, which is a tough way to begin the day. But on this day, the equinox, the light and the dark are in balance. That does not mean that the Earth’s gravitational pull is, however. One of the enduring science myths is that you can stand an egg on its end on the vernal equinox, which has led many people to believe you can do the same during the autumnal equinox. The fact is, that standing an egg on end doesn’t depend on any equinox or solstice; it can be done by those relatively few who have patience and nothing else to do on any day of the year. This sad truth, which I am embarrassed to say I learned only recently, didn’t stop me from trying to continue the tradition that was begun by my husband, who might have known better but was so good at balancing his eggs and his life that no one would have suspected. I, alas, am not nearly so talented and after my egg fell over for a third time this afternoon, I used it to make cookies instead.

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