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The autumnal equinox happens twice a year when the sun is positioned in line with equator making day and night equal lengths. In the Northern Hemisphere, this phenomenon occurs around September 22 or 23, while in the Southern Hemisphere it occurs on March 20 or 21.
See the fact file below for more information on the autumnal equinox or alternatively, you can download our 18-page Autumnal Equinox worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Earth orbits the sun on its own axis, which is tilted at 23.5 degrees, meaning that the hemispheres lose warmth from the sun when they tilt away. The axial tilt and the Earth’s orbit also means that at certain times of the year, the sun sits right above the equator. This phenomenon happens twice a year.
- When equinoxes happen, a terminator, also known as the twilight zone, is seen as a dividing line between the light and dark parts of the Earth directly through the North and South Poles.
- Besides the Earth, every other planet in the solar system experiences seasonal changes.
CULTURE AND EQUINOXES
- The autumnal equinox, also known as the fall equinox, has been celebrated by many cultures throughout the eras. In Pagan mythology, the equinox is the time to give thanks for the summer and good harvest through the Mabon festival. At the same time, Pagans use this time to prepare for the coming of darkness with a bigger winter festival called Samhain.
- During Mabon, believers build an altar with abundant harvest produce, such as fruits and vegetables.
- In Japan, Buddhists believe that this period (Ohigan) is related to the afterlife and is celebrated through visiting the graves of one’s ancestors.
- The Moon festival, or the Mid-Autumn, festival is celebrated in China and Vietnam during this period. Using the lunar calendar, it falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Eating moon cakes is a must during this celebration.
- Both in spring and fall, Neo-Druids visit Stonehenge to watch the equinox sunrise to give thanks for the harvest and prepare for the coming winter.
- The oldest solar observatory in America is found in Chankillo, Peru, where the Mesopotamian civilization existed about two thousand years ago. The ruins has 13 aligned towers, which follow the sun during equinoxes and solstices.
- In ancient Greek traditions, Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility, is honored during this season. So is Apollo, the god of music and arts.
- In the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan, a pyramid dedicated to the sun became the biggest ceremonial center during the equinox.
- In ancient Greek mythology, the season is linked to the tale of the abduction of Persephone, daughter of the harvest goddess Demeter.
- The story, also called Cora, tells of the abduction of Persephone to the underworld where she becomes the wife of Hades. Amidst the struggle, Demeter is able to rescue her daughter but only for nine months. Persephone returns to the underworld every fall and spends three months with Hades, which is closely linked to the plantless winter.
- In the northern hemisphere, the autumnal equinox marks peak viewing of the northern lights, known as aurora borealis.
- In contrast to the equinoxes, solstices mark the extreme differences between day and night, particularly near the poles, when the earth’s axis is at its closest to (summer solstice) or furthest (winter solstice) from the sun.
Autumnal Equinox Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the autumnal equinox across 18 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Autumnal Equinox worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the autumnal equinox which happens twice a year when the sun is positioned in line with equator making day and night equal lengths. In the Northern Hemisphere, this phenomenon occurs around September 22 or 23, while in the Southern Hemisphere it occurs on March 20 or 21.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Autumnal Equinox Facts
- Position of the Sun
- Changing Seasons
- What About Autumn?
- Equinox Across Culture
- Northern Lights
- Festivals and Holidays
- Persephone and the Underworld
- The Snake of Sunlight
- Here Comes Autumn
Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about the autumnal equinox?
During the autumnal equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator, and the northern and southern hemispheres get the same amount of rays. This makes day and night equal in length.
What does the equinox mean spiritually?
The equinox is thought to represent the esoteric struggle between darkness and light, death and life. It occurs when night and day are of equal length, signifying a balance between light and darkness.
How does the equinox affect us?
The length of days and nights depends on the equinox. If it is the autumnal equinox, the nights will start to be longer. This happens because Earth moves closer to the position of the winter solstice (which marks the longest night of the year).
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Link will appear as Autumnal Equinox Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 28, 2023
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.