Your complete guide to the Autumn Equinox 2022: so, what is it and when does it start?

Hello, Autumn...

Autumn Equinox 2022
(Image credit: Doug Meek via Getty Images)

Hello, Autumn...

It might feel like the summer solstice was only a few weeks ago, but this week’s cooler weather has cemented the end of summer and the start of Pumpkin Spice Latte season. That's right - the Autumn Equinox 2022 is nearly here, meaning it's time to welcome darker evenings, your favourite trench coats, crunchy leaves, and bonfire night.

So, question: you'll likely have seen it bandied around social media, but what does the term Autumn Equinox actually mean? Is it similar to astrology in that it dictates a mood or feeling (hello, new moon) or is it simply a term to describe the changing of the seasons? 

Keep scrolling for all your need-to-knows. Don't miss our guides to the Buck Moon and Supermoon, while you're here. 

Autumn Equinox 2022: your complete guide

What is the Autumn Equinox?

The Autumn Equinox is a term used to describe the beginning of the astronomical autumn.

This year, it'll fall on 23rd September at 1:04am GMT. Why such a specific time? Well, because the Autumn Equinox occurs at the exact moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator. (This is the same as the Earth's equator but in the sky). 

Fun fact: On the day of the Autumn Equinox, both day and night are pretty equal in duration. Yet following this day of roughly equal length - yep, you guessed it - the nights will slowly but surely draw in as winter approaches. This will continue until it all reverses for springtime.

So, why does this happen? Short answer: we have fewer daylight hours as there is less sunshine in the northern hemisphere. This is due to it tilting away from the sun.

Autumn Equinox 2022

When is the Autumn Equinox 2022? 

As above, it falls on Friday 23rd September.

While it marks the beginning of astrological autumn, on the meteorological calendar, autumn begins on the 1st of September.

Why is it called the Autumn Equinox? 

While it might sound confusing at first, it's actually pretty simple.

Equinox comes from the Latin meaning of "equal night." Equi means "equal" and nox means "night" - aka, the time of year when you have an equal amount of daylight and sunlight hours.

Although its name is derived from Latin, the Autumn Equinox was historically marked by a harvest ritual. Along with the harvest full moon, the ritual was a time to give thanks for the harvest season and share the harvest for the upcoming winter months.

Today, some chose to use the time to reflect on the year so far.

How long will it last?

Just for the day. Why not use the changing of the season as an opportunity to welcome and embrace the end of the year and any goals you may still want to achieve this year? 

The Spring Equniox is also equal hours of day and night.

As to when Autumn ends and winter begins - on the metrological calendar, Autumn will end on 30th October. If you follow the astronomical calendar, Autumn ends on Wednesday 21st December, the day of the winter solstice.

Time to start crunching leaves...

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.