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Fall Equinox on Oregon Coast Brings Lunar Sights, Celebrations to Inland, Portland

Published 09/19/2018 at 4:47 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Fall Equinox on Oregon Coast Brings Lunar Sights, Celebrations to Inland, Portland

(Oregon Coast) – There’s much ado about the autumnal equinox around the Oregon coast and inland areas like Portland this week, as September 22 brings the official change to fall. As that happens, however, more awesome second summer weather hits Oregon coast beaches, there’s an equinox celebration in the coast range and Gorge, and the moon will do some awesome things on the ocean.

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Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland’s OMSI, said that on that day the sun is directly above the Earth’s equator, and for just one day we’ll be seeing 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of daylight. Also, the sun will rise due east and then sets due west that day.

This autumnal equinox is the opposite of the vernal (or spring) equinox, which happens March 21. Todd said it's all because of the Earth's orbit around the sun.

“The axis of this orbit is inclined at an angle of 23.5 degrees,” he said. “So at the winter solstice the sun is 23.5 degrees south over the Tropic of Capricorn.”

After this date begins the ever-increasing plod towards shorter winter days. From here on out, there will be more and more dark than daylight hours until the region reaches late December.

Interestingly enough, the moon will be setting straight west and rising straight out to the east for Oregon viewers just two days later. On September 24, it’s a new full moon. It appears during the late day and then dips below the horizon about 6 a.m.

This means for a good portion of the dark hours after midnight, you’ll get to see the moon reflecting on the ocean. This will happen for several days before and after the full moon, actually. It means some great night photo opps along the Oregon coast, if you’re up kind of late.

Weather will be on and off for such viewing, but most nights are looking at partially clear to mostly clear conditions for about a week along the beach towns. From Monday and through much of the week, the weather forecasts are calling for fairly warm “second summer” conditions, aside from some cloudy and slightly rainy days mixed in. See the weather page.

This time of year is known as the “second summer” because it generally features the best weather of the year along the Oregon coast.

On Saturday, September 22, look for two Autumnal Equinox Celebrations: with a Star Party in the Columbia Gorge and one in the coast range. They happen at Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park starting at sunset. The party is free with $5 parking per vehicle parking fee. From beginners to experts of all ages, this is your opportunity to view the stars and other objects through a variety of telescopes. Viewing highlights include waxing gibbous moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and more.

On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Parties, it is suggested that interested visitors check back here for possible weather-related cancellations. ---- Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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