Autumnal equinox 2011, Phoenix

Jupiter traveling over Phoenix at the precise moment of equinox.

The autumnal equinox occurred at 2:04 a.m.  The skies in Phoenix, Arizona, were clear, the wind calm and the temperature 80 F.  after a high yesterday of 106.  The night sky is moonless, a dome of artificial light rises from the highrise buildings a mile to the south.  The brightest object above is Jupiter which has reached near zenith at the moment of equinox.

The equinox marks the moment the sun’s path crosses the equator of our tilting Earth.  In this case, the sun’s path is south, bringing spring to the southern hemisphere and autumn to the north where Phoenix is located.  It will be another three months, sometime in late December, before the sun’s path will begin to steer north again.  It has been a hot, dry year with record high temperatures in August.  Like much of the Southwest, huge wildfires burned thousands of acres during the summer.  This has been happening for a long time now.

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