Friday, September 22, 2017

Sensory Word of the Week

This week I have decided to depart from the mini-series of words ending in -escent or -escence, and instead, to celebrate the changing of seasons. Even though temps are in the 90s in the St. Louis area, today marks the fall equinox.

Most of us probably know that the autumnal equinox marks the first day of fall (at least in the Northern Hemisphere—it's the first day of spring down under). But do we really know what that word means? defines equinox as "one of the two times in a year when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, and day and night are of equal length." According to, equinox is derived from the Latin roots aequus, meaning "equal," and nox, meaning "night."

The equinox is not actually a day—it's the specific moment in time when the sun crosses the equator. The autumnal equinox usually happens on September 22, but that's not guaranteed. Furthermore, the idea of equal nighttime and daytime on the date of the equinox is not exactly reality. Because the atmosphere refracts sunlight, most places experience the phenomenon of equal day and night a few days before or after the equinox, and this is actually called equilux. The Latin root lux refers to "light."

The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, known as the Harvest Moon, marks when the time between moonrises shortens. Although moonrises typically occur about 50 minutes later each night during the lunar month, at this time of year, the delay is only 30-40 minutes. The Harvest Moon is right around the corner on October 5.

Many cultures celebrate the fall equinox. With the season of shorter days upon us, it's time to reap what we have sewn and be thankful. It's a time to reflect on what we have accomplished through the year thus far and decide what to do with it, how to move forward. May you have a wonderful day celebrating the seasons and the progress of your year!

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