Summer still wanting to hang on, however

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today, Sept. 22, is the official first day of fall. Now, here in the heart of the South, it certainly still feels as though summer would like to hang on quite a bit longer. With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, the Fall Equinox doesn’t appear to be headed in our direction anytime soon.

Another sign that summer is hanging on is that the tropics are also still active with powerful Hurricane Maria churning away and hopefully making that predicted turn to the north and not affecting the U.S. mainland after slamming into Puerto Rico and causing massive destruction.

While hurricane season can’t end soon enough, there’s nothing wrong with daydreaming of cooler days, darker nights, autumn leaves and frost on the pumpkin.

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Autumn also means bringing a jacket to the Friday night high school football game or a blanket to the Saturday afternoon/evening college football game.

But what does it really mean?

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Autumnal equinox — also called the September equinox — is the astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).

During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator” (just imagine the line that marks the equator on Earth extending up into the sky) from north to south.

Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the Sun’s rays about equally. The Sun is overhead at noon as seen from the equator. At this point, the amount of nighttime and daytime (sunlight) are roughly equal to each other.

Another definition of fall is nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights.

Here’s to hot chocolate by the fire, while watching weekend football on the TV. It can’t get here soon enough.