Is An Equinox The Same As A Solstice?

The onset of autumn differs depending on whom you ask. For some, Labor Day marks the shift of seasons. For others, it’s when the dramatic harvest moon rises on the horizon.

But traditionally, fall begins promptly with the autumn equinox.

What is an equinox?

The equinox occurs twice a year. The vernal equinox happens around March 21, when the sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox occurs around September 22 or 23, when the sun crosses the celestial equator going south.

The word equinox comes from Latin and means “equality of night and day.” Contrary to popular belief, the equinox doesn’t last for 24 hours. It occurs at two specific moments in time when the sun is exactly above the equator.

If you want to be truly egalitarian, opt for saying March equinox and September equinox. These terms avoid the Northern Hemisphere bias that March is in the spring and September is in the autumn … because you know, on the other side of the world March is fall. Crazy, we know.

Is equinox the same as a solstice?

The equinox is often confused with the solstice, which is either of the two times a year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator. The solstice occurs around June 21 and December 22. Solstice derives from the Latin solstitium, which literally means “the standing still of the sun.”

The equinox has inspired a number of false beliefs, including that the event causes a massive disruption in communication satellites or that on the equinox an egg can effortlessly be balanced on its end. Strange …

Don’t worry, we all mix up words. But, with a little education and research … you really do learn something new everyday.

WATCH: Try Not To Laugh At This Similar Sounding Slip-up

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