i. One of the two points of intersection of the ecliptic and the celestial equators, occupied by the sun when its declination is 0°. Also called an equinoctial point. That point occupied on or about March 21, when the sun’s declination changes from south to north, is called the vernal equinox, spring equinox, March equinox, or first point of Aries; that point occupied on or about September 23, when the declination changes from north to south, is called the autumnal equinox, September equinox, or first point of Libra. Equinox is often used to mean vernal equinox, when referring to the origin of measurement of right ascension and celestial longitude. At the time of equinox, the duration of day and night is the same or equal.
Positions of sun and the earth at spring and autumnal equinoxes.
ii. That instant the sun occupies one of the equinoctial points.

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  • equinox — [ē′kwi näks΄, ek′wə näks] n. [ME < OFr equinoxe < ML aequinoxium < L aequinoctium < aequus (see EQUAL) + nox, NIGHT] 1. the time when the sun in its apparent annual movement along the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator, making… …   English World dictionary

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  • equinox — late 14c., from O.Fr. equinoce (12c.) or directly from M.L. equinoxium equality of night (and day), from L. aequinoctium the equinoxes, from aequus equal (see EQUAL (Cf. equal)) + nox (gen. noctis) night (see NIGHT (Cf. ni …   Etymology dictionary

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