Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Happy autumnal equinox! As of today, the fall season of 2021 has officially begun, and anyone out and about in the Spa City could feel it in the wind, hear it in the rustling leaves and see it in storefronts. It's one of the most wonderful time's of the year, and has only just begun. Depending on Arkansas's notorious temperamental weather, we may see a few more hot days, but fall is still undeniably here, and I hope it is enjoyed and cherished at a steady pace.
Local poet Elmer Beard expressed his love for the season in a poem he shared with The Post:
by Elmer Beard
We can feel it in the air
the nights are longer
the days are shorter
the weather is cooler
Yes, fall is here
the leaves of the variety of trees tell us so
a multiplicity of colors
these trees always bare
some leaves are red
and orange and brown and tan
the wind blowing as they fall
to the ground as soon as they can
just because it’s fall again
So, since it is indeed fall again, today I walked around downtown Hot Springs, venturing through Whittington Park and up Hot Springs Mountain, and I photographed some of the beautiful — and some of the downright fun — things I came across that screamed: IT'S FALL, Y'ALL.
My findings are below, but email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org for a community gallery to be added on this page.
About the autumnal equinox, from The Old Farmer's Almanac:
The autumnal equinox — also called the September or fall equinox — is the astronomical start of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere and of the spring season in the Southern Hemisphere.
The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, “night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length.
During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.
After the autumnal equinox, days become shorter than nights as the Sun continues to rise later and nightfall arrives earlier. This ends with the December solstice, when days start to grow longer once again.
One of our favorite pieces of trivia surrounding the autumnal equinox involves its relationship with the full Moon. Curiously, the full Moon that occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox is always called the ”Harvest Moon!” Why is that?
Surprise, surprise: it has to do with farming! Around the fall equinox, the full Moon rises around sunset for several nights in a row, which traditionally provided farmers with just enough extra light for them to finish their harvests before the killing frosts of fall set in. Normally, the Moon rises about an hour later each night, but around the time of the fall equinox, the angle of the Moon’s orbit and the tilt of the Earth line up just right and cause the Moon to rise only about 20 to 30 minutes later each night for several nights in a row!
The Harvest Moon is one of only two Moon names that are astronomical terms and aren’t tied to one specific month. Because it’s always the full Moon nearest to the equinox that’s called the “Harvest Moon,” either September or October’s full Moon can take on the name. (The other astronomical Moon name is the Hunter’s Moon, which is the full Moon that directly follows the Harvest Moon. It can occur in either October or November.)
This year, the Harvest Moon happens on Monday, Sept. 20 — just two days prior to the autumnal equinox.