The September equinox (or southward equinox) is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Because of differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox may occur anytime from September 21 to 24.
At the equinox, the Sun as viewed from the equator rises due east and sets due west. Before the Southward equinox, the Sun rises and sets more northerly, and afterwards, it rises and sets more southerly.
The equinox may be taken to mark the end of astronomical summer and the beginning of astronomical autumn (autumnal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere, while marking the end of astronomical winter and the start of astronomical spring (vernal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.
See also: Tropical year
The September equinox is one point in time commonly used to determine the length of the tropical year.
The dates and times of the September equinoxes that occur from the year 2017 to 2027 (UTC) are listed as follows:
The point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator southwards is called the First Point of Libra. However, because of the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Libra, but rather in Virgo.
The solar point of the September equinox passed from Libra and into Virgo in −729 (730 BCE) and will enter Leo in 2439.
At the equinox, the Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. However, because of refraction it will usually appear slightly above the horizon at the moment when its "true" middle is rising or setting. For viewers at the north or south poles, it moves virtually horizontally on or above the horizon, not obviously rising or setting apart from the movement in "declination" (and hence altitude) of a little under a half (0.39) degree per day.
For observers in either hemisphere not at the poles, the Sun rises and sets more and more to the south during the 3 months following the September equinox. This period is the second half of a 6-month long southerly movement, beginning with the June solstice when the Sun rises and sets at its most northern point.
See also: March equinox § Culture
The September equinox marked the first day of the French Republican Calendar.