September 2021


Fall Facts

Autumn, also known as fall in North American English, is one of the four temperate seasons.

Autumn is the transition season between summer and winter, best noticed by the color change in leaves and the harvest.

The date of the beginning of autumn varies according to climate, tradition and culture, but when it is autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, it is spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa.

In the Northern Hemisphere autumn lasts from the autumnal equinox (September 22 or 23) to the Winter Solstice (21 or 22 December). In the Southern Hemisphere, autumn lasts from March until June.

The 1st day of autumn 2020 in Northern Hemisphere will be on Tuesday, September 22nd. And the last day of autumn 2020 will be on Monday, December 1st.

The reason the equinoxes and solstices don’t always come on the same day is that Earth doesn’t circle the sun in exactly 365 days.

The first day of autumn, the autumnal equinox, has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. The term equinox comes from the Latin words aequus, meaning equal and nox, meaning night.

Autumn begins when the center of the sun crosses Earth’s equator. As Earth continues its path around the sun, days become shorter and nights become longer.

The Earth’s orbit around the Sun has very little effect over the Seasons on Earth. Instead, it the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis, which is angled at around 23.5 degrees, that creates seasons.

Autumn is derived from the French, which came from the Latin autumnus, the Roman name for this season.

While Americans typically use the word “fall,” the British use the word “autumn,” though both terms date around the 16th century. Before these terms, the period was called “harvest.”

The word “harvest” comes from the Old Norse word haust, which means “to gather or pluck.” As people moved to the cities, “harvest” fell out of use and city dwellers began to use “fall of the leaf,” which was shortened to “fall.”

One of the most stunning signs of Autumn is the turning of the leaves. Leaves change their wardrobes in response to chilly temperatures and less light (as days begin to shorten); they stop producing chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps leaves capture sunlight to power photosynthesis. As green fades, the leave’s other pigments, such as the orange and yellow of carotenoids shine through. Vibrant red hues are the result of anthocyanins, pigments that are produced in the fall.

While most foods are harvested during the autumn, foods particularly associated with the season include pumpkins (which are integral parts of both Thanksgiving and Halloween) and apples, which are used to make the seasonal beverage apple cider.

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