As the Autumnal Equinox and the Google Doodle marks the arrival of autumn, we provide a guide to welcoming in the new season and suggest where to watch foliage change colour
The Autumnal Equinox (the first day of autumn 2015) occurs today, September 23, and a new Google Doodle has been designed to reflect this.
The equinox happens when the equator passes the centre of the sun. This is when the north and south poles of the Earth are not tilted towards or away from the sun, as at other times, but are aligned so as to give, theoretically, the same amount of daylight in both of the Earth’s hemispheres.
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The word equinox is derived from the Latin, meaning equal night.
Photo: Peter Hermes Furian/Alamy
After the autumnal equinox, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Traditionally it signified when the farmers bought in the harvest, which perhaps explains why the full moon nearest the equinox is often called the harvest moon.
The pagan festivities around this event were replaced on the Christian calendar with Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, which is celebrated on the 29th of September.
There are two equinoxes – the spring equinox, around March 21, and the autumn equinox – around now.
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How to celebrate the equinox
Just as they gather for the spring equinox and the summer solstice, druids meet at Stonehenge to greet the equinox with song and music.
They are also known to meet on Primrose Hill in London.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
In China, a mid-autumn festival relating to the harvest is celebrated, in Korea, Chuseok – a type of thanksgiving – is held.
In Southern California meanwhile, the Chumash, a Native American tribe, celebrates Hutash, a sun ceremony that coincides with the autumn equinox.
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