The precise time when the sun enters one of the equinoctial points, or the first point of Aries, about March 21st, and the first point of Libra, about September 23rd, making the day and the night of equal length. These are called the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

These points are found to be moving backward or westward, at the rate of 50" of a degree in a year.

This is called the precession of the equinoxes.

Lyrics and music: Phil Lesh

Protected by Greatful Dead copywrights reprinted with permission: see Greatful Dead lyrics

This is an oddity. It was written by Phil Lesh as a song to be sung by Jerry Garcia. It is often called "Mercy of a Fool" in bootleg lyric lists but it seems that "Equinox" is the correct title.

It was recorded for the album Terrapin Station but wasn't. The only version I've got is a simply terrible quality version along with other Terrapin outtakes--hence some lyrics in parentasies (i'm not positive the're correct). It was never played live.


She reclines, closing her eyes
The (still a bad sign) is bound to rise
Night birds and fireflies settle round her
Days grow long, strange (and clear)
Waterfalls shine again
Our lives go on down the stream
Shooting the rapids

Bright as gold
The arms you gave me
Bright as the eye of a hurricane
We're all just the (sage) going ()
Every moment is perfect, no sin is a jewel
If man is a prophet at the mercy of a fool

Watch the seasons go, as sunshine turns blue
Both so close
Sharing rain
(Come comes up) tomorrow
The great globe spins, the music starts
Every beat knows its part
To keep a spirit in a circle
The moment is perfect, the eye's a jewel
If man is a prophet with the mercy of a fool

UK Channel 4 TV popular TV Science Program, covering many issues each series. Similar in vein and content to Horizon, the BBC version.

I guess you've got me, there.
Hey, watch it, I'm sitting down here…don't you dare step on me.
I watch for great justice, I do! Don't step on me…
And today is the day of the eggs! They spin on end, today, but only today…
Tops with possible life within, but just a child's play thing now.

Sing the story, Cherished One! Laugh and fall over tables,
Yes, laugh and drink…yes, and more tea for the masses.
I make my own paths, because this world has none.
I wondered, for a time, how it was to live in a shelter of straw-laden students and girls made of shadow.
But I seem to have been navigating the Amazon…am I on a tributary of the great river now? Tribute.

Grr, stop looking at me in that tone of voice!
I hate it when you scream with your eyes like that…
So odd are you that I cower in your sight when I have no real reason.
Cold shoulder, cold as brass…cold as the winter sun.

And then I twirl the egg, and watch it fall on its side…
Glass houses and skipping stones and to you I'm just a doll.
Crying doesn't hurt…but I break down and dry your cheeks
I'm glad it was too short…makes rafters miles away…
I condemn you to life with me.
Walk this way,
"But I don't want to go into details, please, don't make me…"
Do not step on me…allow me to touch your ankles, and don't you dare
Step on me…

The equinox occurs when the North and South poles of the Earth point at an angle of 90 degrees to the sun (i.e. when they are on the terminator). The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are about 23.5 degrees from the Equator, which means that during Summer solstice the pole makes an angle of (90 - 23.5) = 66.5 degrees with the sun (with the angle being measured as from the centre of the Earth). The equinoxes occur mid-way between the solstices. At the equinox, every point on the Earth (except the poles) experiences 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.

BaronCarlos's writeup highlights one of the problems that some scientists have with the Zodiac, and the way it is used and misused. Take the fact that the equinox is when the sun enters Aries or Libra, the fact that 'These points are found to be moving backward or westward, at the rate of 50" of a degree in a year', the fact that Aries and Libra are constellations, and the fact that a constellation has absolutely no connection whatsoever with the precession of Earth's equinoxes. There's a gaping hole somewhere in that chain of logic.

There is a widely popular myth that the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the only times of the year at which you can stand an egg on its end. The basis appears to be that during this time of year, all the gravitational forces from the Sun and Moon balance out perfectly as the Earth stands with its axial inclination at 90 degrees from the Sun, giving the Earth equal night and day lengths.

The truth of the matter is that the gravitational pull of the Sun on the egg is thousands of times smaller than the gravitational force of your own body on the egg, due to being a few million miles farther from it (gravitational force decreases with the square of distance). Furthermore, the Moon's pull is a random wildcard, since the relative position of the moon has nothing to do with the equinox and it could be any any side of the Earth-Sun system. Fortunately, its gravitational pull on the egg is also so small as to be insignificant as well.

It is, however, true that you can balance an egg on its end at the equinoxes. It is also true that you can balance an egg on its end at any arbitrary time of year, but most people don't bother actually trying it outside of the equinox so they don't know that. Raw or hard boiled, it doesn't matter. All you need is a steady hand and a little practice. I did a demonstration of this once at the summer solstice, just to prove the point.

This is a classic demonstration of the power of the scientific method in action. The scientific method demands that a hypothesis be tested, multiple times, and under different conditions, in order to eliminate random environmental variables and confirmation bias from skewing your data. Most people, as I said, only test the egg balancing hypothesis on the equinox. Upon success, they declare the hypothesis proven, but it isn't! Without attempting to balance the egg on a day other than an equinox, nothing has been shown about conditions under which the feat is impossible. All we have is a single data point.

There are ways to cheat, of course, if you are so inclined. A borderline case is to shake the egg first. This breaks the yolk loose from the bands that keep it suspended in the albumen, letting it settle to the bottom, giving it a lower center of gravity. Another method is to set the egg on some salt and then gently blow away the grains from around the egg. This leaves a few grains of salt around the base, almost invisibly helping to hold the egg upright. And then there's the apocryphal story of Christopher Columbus cracking the end of a hard-boiled egg to flatten it, but that's more of a lateral thinking exercise.

Made by college students for $6500.00 in 1967, Equinox became a cult hit, and its creators were given time and money to film new sequences, stretching the movie to feature-length and gaining it wider distribution. Rereleased in 1970, Equinox influenced such people as George Lucas, Richard O'Brien, and Sam Raimi, received praise from Ray Harryhausen, and features cameos by SF writer Fritz Leiber and Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher Forrest J. Ackerman.

Not bad for a student film assembled on small change.

The plot concerns a group of young people who seek a reclusive professor and instead find his wrecked cottage. It turns out the professor has discovered a Necronomiconesque tome and accidentally unleashed demonic forces. Those forces take the shape of cut-rate but charming special effects: a double-exposed giant, and several stop-motion monstrosities. A mysterious castle appears and disappears, and a ranger turns up who is not what he seems.

Ranger Jim is, in fact, the demon Asmodeus. David, one of our protagonists, hears that name drop multiple times before suddenly recognizing it. The fact seems a little odd: after a day spent encountering strange phenomena and threatening monsters, he then recalls Asmodeus is a demon? It seems to me that information would have come to mind a tad earlier, if he knew it. Of course, we should suspect Ranger Jim's eldritch identity right away, because he acts wooden and unnatural. If we don't, it may be because that's pretty much how everyone acts in this movie. The celebrity guests fare little better. Only the obligatory Creepy Old Guy shows any real acting chops, and these he applies to the obligatory Creepy Old Guy scenery-mastication.

Acting really doesn't matter, however. The story exists as an excuse to display nifty, if campy, low-budget effects. The framing sequences, meanwhile, part of the extended version, have been constructed with some thought, and they provide an effective, uncertain ending.

The young filmmakers crafted an unusual film, with an underlying mythology that falls equally between late-1960s occultism and Jack T. Chick Tracts. If you enjoy fantasy or horror, you should watch Equinox.

Directed by Jack Woods, Mark Thomas McGee, Dennis Murran
Written by Jack Woods, Mark Thomas McGee

Edward Connell as David Fielding
Barbara Hewitt as Susan Turner
Frank Bonner as Jim Hudson
Robin Christopher as Vicki
Jack Woods as Asmodeus
Irving L. Lichtenstein as Creepy Old Guy
James Phillips as Reporter Sloan
Fritz Leiber as Dr. Arthur Waterman
Forrest J. Ackerman as Doctor

Special Effects by David Allen, Jim Danforth, Dennis Muren, Ralph Rodine, David Stipes

E"qui*nox (?), n. [OE. equinoxium, equenoxium, L. aequinoctium; aequus equal + nox, noctis, night: cf. F. 'equinoxe. See Equal, and Night.]


The time when the sun enters one of the equinoctial points, that is, about March 21 and September 22. See Autumnal equinox, Vernal equinox, under Autumnal and Vernal.

When descends on the Atlantic The gigantic Stormwind of the equinox. Longfellow.


Equinoctial wind or storm.




© Webster 1913.

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