When does autumn start? First day of autumn 2022

As summer draws to an end, find out what is the official first day of autumn in 2022

A woman walking her dogs over autumn leaves
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With the summer months almost over, many are starting to wonder when does autumn start and when do the clocks go back?

Summer 2022 saw record temperatures in the UK, with heatwaves up and down the country and some regions even declaring a drought. In many areas, it looked as if the seasons had changed early, with trees dropping their leaves before autumn due to the heat. 

But it's not quite that time of the year yet, and while during the shortest days of the year (opens in new tab) we might find ourselves wanting to know when summer starts (opens in new tab), it's around now that people being to ask when does autumn start and will it snow this year (opens in new tab)? Here's everything you need to know about the onset of autumn.

When does autumn start? First day of autumn in 2022

According to the Met Office (opens in new tab), autumn starts in 2022 on Friday 23 September. However, this refers to astronomical autumn. By the meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn will be Thursday 1 September.

Though there are a few differences between the astronomical and meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn always falls in September for both. The meteorological calendar always puts the first day of autumn as September 1, while the astronomical calendar usually sees autumn begin on either 22 or 23 of September, though this is not always the case.

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Meteorological autumn and astronomical autumn: what’s the difference?

Astronomical autumn is defined by the Earth's axis and orbit around the Sun, while meteorological autumn is a set period of three months, determined by splitting the year into four equal seasons.

The astronomical calendar determines the seasons through the tilt of the Earth's axis in relation to its orbit , and astronomical autumn changes every year, because it starts on the date of the autumn equinox (also known as the autumn solstice or the September equinox). For example, in 2021 the autumn equinox fell on 22 September. 

Meteorological seasons are all three months long and are determined by splitting the year into four, making it easier for meteorological observation and comparing seasonal statistics. The meteorological seasons define spring as beginning 1 March, summer beginning 1 June, autumn beginning 1 September and winter beginning 1 December.

When is autumn equinox 2022?

In 2022, Autumn equinox is on Friday 23 September. The autumn equinox can occur at any time between 21 and 24 September, and marks the transition between seasons. The name comes from the Latin 'equal night'.

The equinox takes place twice a year (in spring and autumn), and marks the date that the sun crosses the equator, when day and night become equal length. After the autumn equinox, the nights become increasingly longer, while after the spring equinox it is the days that become longer. 

The autumn equinox also sees the beginning of the northern hemisphere tilting away from the sun, resulting in less direct sunlight and cooler temperatures. This means that for countries in the southern hemisphere, the autumn equinox marks the arrival of spring.

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When do the clocks go back 2022?

In the UK the clocks always change on the last Sunday in October, which this year falls on 30 October. The clocks will go back by one hour at 2am on this date - meaning an extra hour in bed!

The reason the clocks go back is to make better use of the daylight (hence why it is also referred to as Daylight Saving Time), and is used by most countries in Europe.

The clocks always go forward by 1 hour at 1 am on the last Sunday in March - which will be the 26 of the month in 2023 - to mark British summer time.

How long does autumn last?

Autumn always lasts three months in both the astronomical and the meteorological calendar, though the exact end date will differ.

During this time, trees will shed their leaves to prepare for the shorter days in winter, plants will stop making food and some animals, such as hedgehogs, dormice and bats, will begin to hibernate.

When does autumn end in 2022?

According to the meteorological calendar, autumn will end on Wednesday 30 November, while the astronomical calendar marks the last day of autumn as Wednesday 21 December.

Winter solstice marks the end of autumn and the onset of winter in the astronomical calendar and is also the shortest day of the year, seeing around 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight. It is also the day of the year that shadows cast will be the longest.

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