The Autumnal Tipping Point

IMG_6766In addition to today being Bilbo’s and Frodo’s Birthday, my Roman Curia calendar indicates that the Autumnal Equinox occurred at 14:20 GMT. Here at the Cupboard Under The Stairs, the Equinox took place at 9:21 AM CDT.

The word equinox was formed by two Latin words, for “equal” and nox, “night”.  On both the fall and spring, or autumnal and vernal equinox, daylight and darkness are nearly equal in length.

And so in the Northern Hemisphere, we begin the time of year where days are shorter than our nights, to continue until the Winter Solstice.

Also on this day the naval Battle of Salamis was fought in 480 BC.  That was one of the tipping points of history, for the Greeks under Themistocles defeated the Persians under Xerxes. He deceived the Persians to sail into a narrow strait where their larger numbers would not be an advantage.  Had the Persians won, the West would … well… not have been the West it was.  In Persians, Aeschylus the Persians heard the Greeks singing a paean or battle hymn as they approached the strait:

ὦ παῖδες Ἑλλήνων ἴτε
ἐλευθεροῦτε πατρίδ᾽, ἐλευθεροῦτε δὲ
παῖδας, γυναῖκας, θεῶν τέ πατρῴων ἕδη,
θήκας τε προγόνων: νῦν ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀγών.

O sons of the Greeks, go,
Liberate your country, liberate
Your children, your women, the seats of your fathers’ gods,
And the tombs of your forebears: now is the struggle for all things.

What shall US troops one day sing when the war of our time is joined, I wonder.

And since North Carolina seems to be at war with itself right now, the Tuscorora War began in 1711.  The great scientist Michael Faraday was born on this day in 1791 and Pres. Lincoln released the text of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    This is also the day on which, I suggest, summer’s chilled sherries are finished off, and fall’s room temperature madeiras are henceforth served.

    [Sapienti pauca. No thoughts on G&T? Also, I wonder if this isn’t a better day to change hats from straw to felt. I have a new Homburg that must be broken in.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. frjim4321 says:

    This is the day we move from the Bombay Saphire to the Glenlivet …

    [While I am sure that neither of us are rigid in this matter, and while I think I’d go with Lagavulin 16…. I hope this doesn’t give any regular readers a heart attack….]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. frjim4321 says:

    It’s also a good night for a Davidoff Avo Synchro Toro!

  4. Kerry says:

    Father Z, perhaps this song?
    “With that he seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains. Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor! …the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.”

  5. Mariana2 says:

    It is, of course, also the day Samwise Gamgee set out for the Grey Havens.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The word equinox was formed by two Latin words, for “equal” and nox, “night”. On both the fall and spring, or autumnal and vernal equinox, daylight and darkness are nearly equal in length.”

    Why, why…that’s discriminatory. September 22 is, also, equal day – equidie*. Day and night must be treated equally. If night wants to be treated like day – you know, transcircadian day, then it has a right to be. If night wants to, you know, use the picnic table in the park at night, who should stop it. If night really believes itself to be day, then night should be allowed to have those street lights turned off on the highway because it hurts night’s feelings. We need to sue the astronomers who perpetuate this injustice.

    Alright. Who’s with me on this?

    The Chicken

    [Tongue out of beak, for the humor impaired. Am I being cruel? Should we tolerate different points of view for the sake of sensitivity? Hmm…maybe I have been cruel. What can one do? Day is day; night is night]

    *Technically, because of the way day is defined and because of the Earth’s tilt, day will, alway be slightly longer than night, but, you know, that’s like saying boys, on average, are taller than girls – it really doesn’t affect the principle. Day and night are fictions in the minds of astronomers, anyway.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    “On both the fall and spring, or autumnal and vernal equinox, daylight and darkness are nearly equal in length.”

    Though daylight and darkness are never of exactly length on the actual date of the autumnal equinox, that is, when the sun crosses the earth’s equator on its way south. According to the time-and-date table here, length of daylight always exceeds darkness on the equator, and in the northern hemisphere the approximate autumnal date of “equal day and night” varies from September 25 at 60° North to October 4 at 10° North.

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