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What to know about the autumnal equinox as the days shorten before our eyes

Anthony R. Wood, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

Closer to earth, this is the harvest season for local bird-watchers, says Keith Russell, a program manager for Audubon Pennsylvania. “It’s a pretty wonderful time in the world of birds,” he said.

The last week in September and the first week in October “are really the height of fall migration,” he said.

“Hawks are migrating in great numbers,” he said.

He also advises keeping an eye on the weather forecasts. Passing cold fronts are great importers of migrators. “That’s when we get really big numbers,” he said. “Those are the best days to go look for them.”

Happy spring down under

In the Southern Hemisphere, the astronomical spring arrives at 3:20 p.m., but evidently most Australians won’t be partying. By official decree, spring begins on Sept. 1, which is the first day of the meteorological spring down here, and meteorological fall up this way.

 

Happy New Year

Once upon a time this was New Year’s Day in France. The French revolutionaries overthrew both the government and the Gregorian calendar, and in 1792, Sept. 22, the day of the autumnal equinox, became day one of the new year.

Like the new French Republic, it didn’t last. Napoleon might have preferred wearing his New Year’s Eve party hat on Dec. 31. In any event, the Gregorian system was reinstated on Jan. 1, 1805.

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