The sun soon is to set true west, so the autumn equinox is at hand.
At other times its aim is a little off to the southwest or northwest, but not at the equinox, when it hits the horizon like a compass point.
Houses in Columbus’ first neighborhood were oriented to face east or west, apparently. From the perspective of my front porch in the Historic District, the sun at the equinox sets precisely between two houses across the street, like an orange laser point on a rifle scope.
It reminds me of ancient monuments ascribed to cultures unknown, where researchers discover structures are aligned to the sun at the season’s change.
Autumn arrives at 10:21 a.m. Thursday, when the sun from our perspective crosses the equator headed south, as the tilted Earth revolves around to where it turns its Southern Hemisphere to the light and leans its Northern Hemisphere away.
Some may get tired of reading that astronomical explanation, which I yet repeat two to four times a year because a lot of people still have screwy ideas about our place in the solar system, as evidenced by a 2012 poll that showed 26 percent think the sun revolves around the earth.
That’s what comes from people thinking they’re the center of the universe.
So the Summer of 2016 is over. Stick a fork in it. Been there. Done that. Bought the Country’s Midnight Express T-shirt.
After the joys of summer are gone, life carries on, but the pace picks up. Come January, we’ll look back and try to recall how the year ended, and like witnesses to a crime say it all happened so fast – except for this dragged-out election.
Our fourth-quarter race is marked by a hurdle of holidays apparently aimed at reminding us we don’t need daylight to be happy, once we have so little of it.
Before the starting gun, I like to pause this time of year to check the calendar’s track, so nothing sneaks up on me in the dark, like Halloween.
Halloween falls on a Monday this year, meaning costume parties will be Saturday, Oct. 29, so have your Trump or Clinton wig sufficiently fluffed and dyed, and be sure to check with your local government on when children should trick-or-treat, as apparently no one now does it Oct. 31 without official sanction.
The kids won’t have to bum candy in the dark, because Daylight Savings Time won’t end until Sunday, Nov. 6. But that also means some people will be in the dark when they go to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Columbus Day will be Monday, Oct. 10, by the way, in case you get off that day or want to go to the bank or the post office or have your garbage picked up. And Veterans Day will fall on a Friday this year, however that affects the government holiday.
Thanksgiving will be Nov. 24, so get any business with the government that week done by 5 p.m. Wednesday the 23rd, after which government’s going to be a dead zone until the following Monday.
After this Thursday, our days north of the equator will keep getting shorter until the winter solstice, which arrives at 5:44 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, when the sun hits the Tropic of Capricorn, which in the Southern Hemisphere will be the beginning of summer, if you’d like to go there until spring gets here. Or you just want to flee the country after the election.
Christmas falls on a Sunday, so were you thinking of skipping church this year, forget about it.
Record attendance also may be anticipated later at bars and nightclubs, because New Year’s Eve will be a Saturday night special, as 2016 breathes its last, and the year 2017 is born on a Sunday.
Let’s hope it’s a good one.