Autumn Equinox to Halloween – Quiz

Autumn Equinox to Halloween – Quiz
Autumn equinox and autumn sky, discoveries and discoverers, an ancient festival that marked the transition from the light to darkness. Can you identify them? Try the quiz – then you can check your answers, and learn more about them.

Equinox to Halloween: Quiz

  1. Astronomically, the September equinox occurs when: (A) the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south; (B) the Sun crosses the celestial equator going north; (C) everywhere on Earth has exactly 12 hours each of day and night

  2. A planet was discovered on the night of the autumn equinox in 1846 – it was: (A) Uranus; (B) Pluto; (C) Neptune

  3. A prominent northern hemisphere autumn asterism is the: (A) Teapot of Sagittarius; (B) Great Square of Pegasus; (C) Autumn Triangle

  4. A famous space mission ended on September 30, 2016 – it was: (A) Voyager 1 losing contact with Earth after leaving the heliosphere; (B) Cassini plummeting into Saturn; (C) Rosetta in a controlled descent to the surface of a comet.

  5. The full moon nearest the autumn equinox is most commonly known in the northern hemisphere as the: (A) Grain Moon; (B) Harvest Moon; (C) Hunter's Moon

  6. On October 4, 1957, people were stunned when: (A) Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit Earth; (B) Sputnik 1 was launched; (C) Alan Shepard became the first American in space

  7. The American astronomer who discovered the two Martian moons was born on October 15, 1829 – (s)he was: (A) Asaph Hall; (B) Maria Mitchell; (C) Williamina Fleming

  8. In the northern hemisphere, this zodiac constellation is best seen in October: (A) Virgo the maiden; (B) Cancer the crab; (C) Aquarius the water carrier

  9. The star whose name means “the demon” is: (A) Achernar; (B) Acrux; (C) Algol

  10. The ancient Gaelic festival that is a precursor to Halloween is called: (A) Samhain; (B) Beltane; (C) Imbolc
Answers and notes

1. Astronomically, the September equinox occurs when: (A) the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south.
The March equinox occurs when the Sun crosses the celestial equator going north. Around the time of the equinoxes, the number of hours of day and night are approximately equal everywhere, but there are small variations due to local conditions.

2. A planet was discovered on the night of the autumn equinox in 1846 – it was: (C) Neptune.
Based on the calculations of Urbain LeVerrier, Johann Galle discovered Neptune on September 23, 1846. William Herschel discovered Uranus in March 1781. Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, then accepted as a planet, in 1930.

3. A prominent northern hemisphere autumn asterism is the: (B) Great Square of Pegasus.
Pegasus is an autumn constellation. The winged horse's body is made up of the four stars of the Great Square, even though one of the four is now officially in the constellation Andromeda. Sagittarius is a summer constellation. There is a Spring Triangle, a Summer Triangle, and a Winter Triangle, but oddly, no Autumn Triangle.

4. A famous space mission ended on September 30, 2016 – it was: (C) Rosetta in a controlled descent to the surface of a comet.
Voyager 1 is now in interstellar space, but NASA is still in contact with it. The Cassini mission ended in 2017.

5. The full moon nearest the autumn equinox is most commonly known in the northern hemisphere as the: (B) Harvest Moon.
An August full moon may be called the Grain Moon, and the Hunter's Moon is usually in October.

6. On October 4, 1957, people were stunned when: (B) Sputnik 1 was launched.
On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth. Then on May 5th NASA's Alan Shepard became the first American in space, though he didn't make an orbit of Earth.

7. The American astronomer who discovered the two Martian moons was born on October 15, 1829 – he was: (A) Asaph Hall.
Asaph Hall was a professor at the United States Naval Observatory when he discovered the Martian moons. Maria Mitchell was still an amateur astronomer when she became the first American woman to discover a comet. Williamina Fleming was Scottish by birth and a naturalized American. She discovered the Horsehead Nebula while studying photographic plates at Harvard College Observatory.

8. In the northern hemisphere, this zodiac constellation is best seen in October: (C) Aquarius the water carrier.
Virgo and Cancer are both spring constellations.

9. The star whose name means “the demon” is: (C) Algol.
Algol comes from the Arabic for “the demon” – it represents the head of Medusa in the constellation Perseus. Achernar in Eridanus (the River) means “head of the river”. Acrux is a shortened form of the Bayer designation of Alpha Crucis in the constellation Crux (the Cross) .

10. The ancient Gaelic festival that is a precursor to Halloween is called: (A) Samhain.
The modern echo of the traditions associated with Beltane is May Day. Samhain was the end of the light part of the Celtic year and the beginning of the dark part. Imbolc, on February 1st, was its opposite, the end of the dark part of the year and the beginning of the light.

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You Should Also Read:
Autumn Equinox
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Pegasus the Winged Horse

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