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#938516 09/23/23 10:10 AM
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Autumn began today in the northern hemisphere. The Sun crossed the celestial equator at 0650 GMT (7:50 British Summer Time). For much of North America, autumn began yesterday.

Autumn begins on the equinox, the day the Sun crosses the equator. The earliest known civilizations celebrated the equinoxes, and they're still celebrated in many places. One of the biggest autumn celebrations is the Chinese Moon Festival. A traditional Chinese garden has a moon-watching pavilion.

Autumn Equinox
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Mona Evans
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Autumn equinox and autumn sky, discoveries and discoverers, an ancient festival that marked the transition from the light to darkness. Can you identify them?

It's an autumn quiz: Autumn Equinox to Halloween
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Mona Evans
For news, activities, pictures and more, sign up to the Astronomy Newsletter!

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Joined: May 2010
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An odd ideas for an equinox

Egg balancing
There is an idea that makes the rounds each year: on the vernal equinox you can get an egg to balance on its end on a flat surface. Balancing an egg seems to be an old custom in some parts of China. If done on the first day of spring, it's said to bring good luck. But someone in America decided to apply it to the vernal equinox. These people claim that the egg only balances at that time because the day and night are equal, and gravitational forces are in balance. Others say that it works at both equinoxes, but it's usually associated with the spring.

The equinox does not affect the gravitational forces on the Earth. In fact, even the day and night are only approximately equal. When day and night are of equal length it's an equilux, and local factors determine that happens.

If you have the patience – and nothing better to do – you could get an egg to balance on the vernal equinox . . . or the autumnal equinox . . . or any other day of the year.
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Mona Evans
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