Fall Equinox 2023: Everything You Need to Know

The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus nocte which means “equal night” and it refers to the length of the day being approximately equal to the length of the night. This occurs around March 21 and September 21 each year in the northern hemisphere.

What is the Fall Equinox?

Because the Earth rotates on its axis in an oscillating manner throughout its journey around the Sun, the position of the Sun appears to move from north to south and from south to north each year from a fixed point of view on Earth.
Along this apparent path, from the northern hemisphere, there are two dates when the sun is directly above us and the days are about the same length as the nights: March 21 and September 21. These days are called equinox.

When is the Fall Equinox?

Around September 21 is the fall equinox and the spring equinox around March 21 in the northern hemisphere and, in the Yucatan Peninsula, this means that the famous archaeoastronomic phenomena that occur in the spring equinox, such as at the Mayan archaeological zones of Dzibilchaltún or Chichén Itzá, also occur in the fall.

Fall Equinox 2023: Everything You Need to Know

The Feathered Serpent of Chichen Itza, Mexico

The Mayan pyramid El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcán is located in Chichén Itzá and is not only one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, but it is the largest calendar ever built. For example, the sum of the number of steps on the stairs on its four sides adds up to 364, plus the platform at the top, resulting in 365, the number of days in a year.
However, its most surprising feature is the elegant way in which it shows the arrival of spring and fall, the beginning and end of the Mayan agricultural cycle. The Castle is aligned with the cardinal points exactly. Around the spring and fall equinoxes at sunset, a play of light and shadow on the side of the north staircase makes the body of a snake appear crawling towards the ground, with its head sculpted in stone at the base.
It is the descent of the god Kukulcán, the feathered serpent, who returns to the underworld after having fertilized the earth in spring, a spectacle that you cannot miss around September 21.

Witness the Descent of Kukulcán During the Autumn Equinox

Visitors to Cancún, the Riviera Maya or Yucatán can witness this extraordinary phenomenon in Chichén Itzá by hiring a tour or taking a bus or renting a car. Chichén Itzá is located 125 miles west from Cancún, 112 miles northwest from Playa del Carmen and 78 miles east from Mérida.
Thousands of people travel from all over the world and gather in Chichén Itzá every year to admire this archaeoastronomic spectacle. All day long there is a carnival atmosphere and rituals are performed to attract the positive energy of the Sun.