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MAY ALUMNI GUEST 05/27 – SUE HORSNELL
Friday, March 17, 2017
The World Turns #equinox #astronomy #planets
Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. And this month's topic is Celebrating Equinox-Changing Seasons
My older son was born on the 22nd of September, not only sharing his birthday with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins of The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings fame, but also often with the autumn equinox (for definite this year). My younger son was born close to the spring equinox. Midsummer has always been something I marked each year, and at one stage I regularly organised an online event during the summer solstice for an author group. The winter solstice is close to Christmas, and while I don't like that one so much at least I know once past it the days are getting longer again (even if it doesn't get much warmer for a while *shivers*).
As a scientist, I know an equinox is...
"...the moment in which the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun, which occurs twice each year..."
It's when night and day are of approximately equal lengths, and the name itself comes from aequus ( Latin for 'equal') and nox (meaning night). Equinoxes and solstices are directly connected to the seasons of the year - here in the UK, the March equinox marks the start of spring (autumn for our antipodal friends), and September the autumn one. For some cultures, the spring equinox marks the start of the new year instead, and various events are linked to them, such as Harvest Festivals. I love the spring equinox best as it means we're coming out of winter (whether or not the British weather completely agrees), so goodbye to the deep cold, and short, grey days (phew). But as I get older, I seem to see or feel the change in the seasons more than I used to.
And it's something I've included in my stories. One thing that would be constant to any alien planets we might one day travel to (providing they have a significant tilt to their axis - of course, there are always going to be exceptions) are equinoxes and solstices. Where the length of days and nights, and even of seasons will differ from world to world, equinox and solstice may be the only relatable date and possibly the only events shared between different planets. When I was struggling to write a Christmas scifi romance, I went back to basics. Once upon a time we celebrated the winter solstice before Christianity came along. So in my winter planet SFR, my characters celebrate the equinoxes and solstices instead, and just happen to arrive on an ice planet as the winter solstice arrives. Only it's not much to celebrate this time around...
At least while I'm not so fond of the autumn equinox as it leads into winter, I have the birth of my oldest son to celebrate. It takes some of the edge off it. :P