Northern autumn ahead. Here’s your equinox sky
Originally published on September 19, 2022, at Guy Ottewell’s blog. Reprinted with permission.
Northern autumn will arrive September 22-23
The moment when the sun crosses into the southern hemisphere of the sky is 1:06 by Universal Time. This is four or more hours earlier – and thus back in Thursday, September 22 – by American clocks. America is still on Daylight Saving Time, until November 6. So the time of the above chart, for the US Central time zone, is only minutes before the actual equinox.
As you can see, the anti-sun (as I call the point 180° from the sun) is as much above the eastern horizon as the sun is below the western. Halfway between them is the antapex of Earth’s way: the point we are traveling away from at this stage in our orbit.
The stars in the sky scene are those that are bright enough to make up the pictures of the constellations. They are those between which we need to draw the form-lines. Whether they are visible depends on sky conditions. (Here’s how to find a dark sky near you.)
The outer planets at this equinox
The outer planets, as shown in one of the space diagrams from the Astronomical Calendar 2022, are still mostly in our evening sky: west of that anti-sun point. But Jupiter is about to cross it – that is, to be at opposition – on September 26.
You’ll be able to see Saturn. Jupiter will become clearer as it climbs from the horizon. Neptune, probably Uranus, and certainly dwarf planet Pluto are below the limit of the unaided eye.
Bottom line: Northern autumn arrives on September 22 or 23, 2022, with the equinox. The time and date depend on precisely where you live.