FRANKFORT, Ky. (10/3/13) – It’s that time of year again when the crops and fruits are gathered and the leaves begin to change colors only to fall gracefully to the ground. The summer temperatures gradually drop and the air becomes crisp and cool. Autumn, is the third season of the year between summer and winter, lasting from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice.
When the Earth travels a quarter of the way around the sun, the axis is pointed along the planet’s path, parallel to the star. At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon. This is known as equinoxes, meaning the length of daylight and nighttime are exactly the same. In the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox starts around September 22 goes through December 22. However, it varies from year to year. In the Southern Hemisphere, it runs from March 20 – June 21.
Even though autumn brings a nip to the air, how much of a temperature change depends on the location of the area on Earth. Regions closer to the equator normally experience constant temperatures throughout the year, whereas farther north or south of the equator experience greater variations.
Autumn is also known as “fall,” more so in the United States, due to leaves changing colors and falling from the trees. However, before the season was known as autumn or fall it was called “harvest.”
By the 18th century harvest had lost its seasonal meaning and autumn and fall emerged as two accepted names for the third season.
When the 19th century rolled in, the term “fall” had become “Americanized” and frowned upon British Lexicographers.
In response to the chillier weather and fewer daylight hours, the leaves stop producing green chlorophyll, which allows the leaves to capture sunlight and make energy. Meanwhile, orange and yellow pigments called carotenoids shine through the leaves and washes out the green. The red color in some leaves comes from anthocyanin and are only produced in the fall.
Generally regarded as the end of a growing season, autumn ushers in time of celebrations such as Halloween and Thanksgiving.
This season is also regarded as a melancholy time and over the generations has inspired writers and poets.
"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence." — Thomas Hood
Photos Provided by Amber Averitt
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