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An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day have approximately equal length.

At an equinox, the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e. declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point and the autumnal point. By extension, the term equinox may denote an equinoctial point.

The equinoxes are the only times when the subsolar point is on the Equator. This point (the place on the Earth's surface where the center of the Sun can be observed exactly overhead) crosses the Equator moving northward at the March equinox and crosses the Equator moving southward at the September equinox.

Although the word equinox is often understood to mean "equal [day and] night", this is not strictly true. For most locations on earth, there are two distinct identifiable days per year when the length of day and night are closest to being equal; those days are referred to as the "equiluxes" to distinguish them from the equinoxes. Equinoxes are points in time, but equiluxes are days. By convention, equiluxes are the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart.

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Additional Photos by Costantino Topas (COSTANTINO) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12119 W: 23 N: 19097] (119066)
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