The nights are already starting to draw in, and the weather has begun turning for the worse, but this Saturday sees the official start of Autumn.

Saturday will see the Autumn Equinox take place, marking the start of the new season and the end of summer.

But what is the Autumn Equinox, and why is it so special?

What is the Autumn Equinox?

Marking the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, the Autumn Equinox occurs every September.

Due to the Earth’s tilted nature, the Sun usually illuminated either the northern or the southern hemisphere more depending on where in the planet’s orbit Earth is.

However, twice a year both hemispheres are illuminated equally.

These occasions are known as equinoxes, with the latest occurring on Saturday at around 7.49am.

When is Autumn?

The Royal Greenwich Museum explains there are three ways of defining the start of autumn, astronomical, meteorological and phenological.

Astronomically, autumn begins with the Autumn equinox.

However, meteorologically, the seasons are divided into periods of three whole months based on temperatures, with summer being the warmest and winter being the coldest.

The museum explains: “On this basis, for most of the northern hemisphere the autumn months are usually September, October, and November.

“The third way of defining autumn is to use what are known as phenological indicators.

“These cover a range of ecological and biological signs, such as the leaves falling off the trees and the migration of birds to warmer climates.

“These events of course are greatly influenced by weather and climate, and so changing climate could cause autumn to start earlier or later than the standard astronomical or meteorological definitions.”

Traditions and customs of Autumn Equinox

The autumn equinox goes back many years, as do its traditions and customs.

In China, they celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival, also known as the Moon Festival.

It is celebrated by people coming together for dinners, worshipping the moon, lighting paper lanterns and more.

In Japan, it is celebrated with the tradition of Higan and is a time to remember family members who have passed away. Higan lasts for a week, starting three days before the equinox begins.

Furthermore, the Pagan tradition, Mabon, is used to celebrate the equinox by giving thanks for a plentiful harvest for the coming winter months.

In astrology, the autumn equinox marks entry into the Libra season.