The Autumnal Equinox

So here we are then. The Autumnal Equinox (in the Northern hemisphere) takes place this evening, at 21.02 BST (20.02 GMT) at which point the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the Sun’s disk. This is traditionally taken to be the end of summer. It was a lovely morning in Cardiff, sunny and warm. Looking back over the posts I’ve written at this time of year since I started blogging in 2008, it’s notable how many times we’ve had a period of good weather around the autumnal equinox. The local traditional name for this is the `Little Summer of St Michael’. Anyway, here’s am excerpt from the post I wrote in 2008 on this:

The weather is unsettling. It’s warm, but somehow the warmth doesn’t quite fill the air; somewhere inside it there’s a chill that reminds you that autumn is not far away.

I find this kind of weather a bit spooky because it always takes me back to the time when I left home to go to University, as thousands of fledgling students are about to do this year in their turn.

This morning I had some business to attend to near my home. In fact it was in an office in Temple Court on Cathedral Road. I hadn’t been there before and it was only when I got there that I realised that the building used to be a synagogue. Opened in 1897 this was built at the same time as the grand houses on Cathedral Road. It hasn’t been used as a synagogue for some time, and the building has been substantially extended at the rear, but it is still a Grade II listed building.

My little errand completed I decided to make the most of the weather by watching the morning’s play on the last day of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Gloucestershire at the SSE Swalec Stadium in Sophia Gardens. Some playing was lost yesterday because of rain; the forecast had suggested a complete washout, but the rain cleared much earlier than predicted. Glamorgan had been all out for 442 in their first innings. Gloucestershire found batting pretty comfortable but lost a flurry of wickets on Thursday afternoon and ended up declaring on 399 for 8 after 110 overs to have a go at Glamorgan for 15 overs late on. They had an early success with the ball, removing Brown for 13, with the score on 15, but opener Nick Selman and Andrew Salter, promoted to No. 3, took them to the close. I watched them bat together all the way to lunch, as Glamorgan proceeded serenely to 154 for 1.

Here are the players going off for lunch:

The game seems to be drifting to a draw, the likelihood of which is increased even further by the fact that rain is forecast this afternoon, so it wasn’t the most exciting cricket I’ve ever watched, but it’s good to end the season with Glamorgan doing well. A sudden declaration with 40-50 overs left might give Glamorgan the chance of a win, but the pitch is very flat and I can’t see a result being forced. I’m pretty sure the plan is to give Glamorgan’s batsmen a chance to build up a bit of confidence for next season. I just checked the score, in fact, to find that Nick Selman has scored a century, which will do him a power of good!

Our new students arrive for `induction’ next week – including the new PhD students involved with our Centre for Doctoral Training who will be attending a Launch Event that starts on Sunday afternoon. I have a few last-minute jobs to do connected with that this afternoon so I’d better get on with them if I want to get finished so I can enjoy the first Amser Jazz Time of the new season!

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26 Responses to “The Autumnal Equinox”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    As this is at least in part an astroblog, and as a celestial date has been mentioned in Peter’s post, I thought I’d show this post about how some Christians reckon the shit will hit the fan tomorrow:

    For the record I am not one of them, although I do think human civilisation is in for serious trouble of its own making in this century, and I reckon the exposition of the Star of Bethlehem contained herein is a plausible one.

    It would be kind if any commenters would respond on the video rather than discuss the veracity or otherwise of the Bible. I am perfectly willing to do the latter but that’s not why I posted this video on an astroblog.

    • I’d be interested to know what the people who reckon thus will do on Sunday if and when it turns out they were wrong.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        This interpretation of the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation is better thought out than many, and I did not dismiss it without thought. Predicated on the bible, it’s certainly better thought out than the eschatological trash of Harold Camping which you mentioned a few years ago. But I still reckon it’s wrong.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        PS They are not saying it is the end of the world, or the return in power of Jesus of Nazareth to it, just suggesting that something big with a bad outcome will happen. A Christian who believed it might turn assets into gold, for instance, whereas there is no point doing that in advance of the end of the world.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        In response to the link you’ve given (Peter), the Nibiru stuff has nothing to do with it, and the commentator on the video I put up specifically states that the Virgo figure is wrongly placed relative to the stars due to a software glitch. I’ve not checked that and I suspect your author hasn’t checked it either. I’d be (mildly) interested in whether it’s true or not.

      • I just added it because it’s the Nibiru rubbish that is generating most of the press enquiries we’re getting today!

      • From the “Bad Astronomy” link above:

        a crown of twelve stars on her head. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns</B

        I remember when, back in the 70s, this was interpreted by the Bible-thumpers as the European Common Market. 12 stars is obviously the European flag. Seven heads and ten horns? At the time there were 7 languages in the EU (German, French, Italian, Dutch, English, Danish, and Greek) and 10 countries (those corresponding to the languages above plus Belgium, Luxemburg, and Ireland. Obvious, right? (I'm not sure whether Irish was an official language back then, but facts have never bothered interpreters of prophecy.) The Pope is the Antichrist (not Henry Kissinger). And Revelation has exactly 12,000 words in the King James Version (the only translation directly inspired by God—even Richard Dawkins praises its language). (Actually, it is 11,952, but who is counting?) The mark of the beast are bar codes. It all fits together.

      • I think this is a prediction about the County Championship.

      • I knew an astronomer (now dead) who sometimes answered the phone when the tabloids mentioned something like an asteroid or comet about to hit the Earth. It was obvious from their concern when ringing the observatory that they believed it. His standard reply was “Do you have a house”? If the answer was yes, he offered about ten per cent of the market value of said house, in cash; just come to the observatory with the title deed and collect. No-one ever did. If they really believed that they had just a few days to live, it would be silly not to take the money and go down in joy.

        Similarly, I wonder why 90-year-old Christians cry in sadness at funerals when someone they haven’t seen for 10 years has died. In much less than that time they will be re-united. The ten years of not seeing them wasn’t a reason to cry, so why is an additional two years or so such a heart-breaker? Does this prove that they don’t really believe in the traditional Christian picture of heaven?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Phillip, did you see the video I posted before commenting? Before discussing the future, one might hone one’s insight on the past and consider whether it is a plausible interpretation of the Star of Bethlehem.

      • I didn’t watch all of the video, but some of it. Most of the arguments I had heard before. My comment was more a reply to Peter’s “what will they do?”

        Taken literally, the star of Bethlehem doesn’t behave like any known object (the details of its motion etc). Taken metaphorically, it doesn’t have to be a real object at all.

        But even if there was some astronomical happening near the time of the birth of Jesus, this is neither here nor there for an unbeliever.

      • Nobody knows, of course, but it seems plausible to me that the ‘wise men’ were astrologers and that,a planetary conjunction could have caught their attention….

        …assuming, of course, that the gospel account of the nativity can be taken to have some historical validity.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    The real tension in the county championship remains who will go down with Warwickshire. I reckon this will be settled only on the last day of the season next week.

    • Indeed. The plot has thickened considerably over the last couple of weeks. Yorkshire managed to win a game they looked to have lost and Hampshire lost a game they looked like winning.

      P.S. It’s now raining in Cardiff so the anticipated draw looks inevitable…

    • Surrey have just beaten Somerset, which means the latter are probably favourites to go down. If they do, it means I might have the chance to visit Taunton next season!

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Happy memories of my visit to the last day of the season there in 2011 !

      • Taunton is a pretty ground (and town) though Glamorgan’s game there rarely falls in my holidays, like this year when the T20 game was on the day I flew back to Mexico. Glamiorgan clinched the championship there 20 years ago this month (didn’t get to go to that either). If you go to a T20 game there you need to buy your ticket in advance, they always sell out.

      • Well, Somerset turned it round and beat Middlesex, which means that they have avoided the drop. Now Middlesex go down unless Hampshire lose against Warwickshire.

    • And there’s the tension of whether Glamorgan can hang on to 7th place in Division 2!

      • Well, they’ve just won their last match (against Kent) by 5 wickets and so finish on 133 points, comfortably in 7th place whatever happens in the other matches.

  3. Good weather at the end of September isn’t just a Welsh phenomenon, here in Spain we call it “el veranillo de San Miguel” which is exactly the same as the phrase you give.

  4. Selman has actually been Glamorgan’s top Championship run-getter this season, he’s got 4 hundreds now, which isn’t bad for a young player in team struggling to get big scores. And Salter got another career best, he’s increased it incrementally several times this year, while only improving it from 73 to 88. Rudolph is probably a bit sad he didn’t get to bat on this pitch!

  5. Anton Garrett Says:

    Well, we’re all still here, and the final round of county championship games is under way despite the lousy weather…

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