False equinox and the refraction bonus

The autumnal equinox is nearly upon us. Or is it?

Equi + Nox, which comes from the Latin for “noxious horse”, or more generally “nightmare” … oh I’m sorry … wrong book. Here it is: equinox means the length of the night should equal the length of the day. Theoretically.

But someone’s been lying to you. Here’s an article that blows the top off this seasonal myth: The Equinox Error: The Fallacy of Fall’s Arrival.

If you look at the sunrise tables in your local paper, you’ll see this first day of Fall is longer than the first night. Can nothing be trusted? First Lehman Brothers, now this!

The discrepancy is due to the refraction bonus. Mr. Atmosphere bends Mr. Sunbeam over his knee so that by the time you see the Sun kissing the horizon, it’s actually been out of the building for some time. That is: the Sun’s light gets bent in such a way that its apparent position is lower than its actual position.


I think this phenomenon actually may be due to an expensive government bailout intended to stabilize the public markets. “Give them more daylight, for God’s sake!” said Ben Bernanke, “They need to buy!”

How do you plan to spend your refraction bonus?

3 thoughts on “False equinox and the refraction bonus”

  1. My morning-side refraction bonus is, and will be, spent telling my youngest child that no, just because the sun is up doesn’t mean it’s time to wake up yet.

    He almost always wins though .. sigh

  2. Oh, the indignity… that’s my representative! As the old lady’s letter to the editor said: “That extra hour of sunlight is ruining my garden.”

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