Have you seen any daffodils poking their heads out of the ground yet? Maybe you're hearing more birds chattering in the morning around your neighborhood. Those are just two signs that spring is on its way. Many people consider the spring equinox to be the official first day of spring. This year, it falls on Wednesday, March 20. In celebration of the coming season, I thought I'd share some facts you may not know about this special day.
- "Equinox" Means "Equal Night": Because of the word "equinox," many people mistakenly believe there are exactly 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night on the spring equinox. Actually, atmospheric refraction causes us to have a bit more than 12 hours of daylight on the spring equinox. But let's not get bogged down in the details!
- Climate Scientists Recognize a Different Date as the First Day of Spring: Climate scientists use a meteorological calendar to determine the first day of spring. The date of the equinox comes from the astronomical calendar, but the first of spring for many climate scientists is March 1. The meteorological calendar helps them better predict temperatures and weather patterns.
- The Sun Rises Due East and Sets Due West on the Spring Equinox: This is the chance to see an interesting sight in the sky. Also, it's a great time to reaffirm your sense of direction!
- The Great Sphinx Eyeballs the Sun: The Egyptians built the Great Sphinx in Giza so its face points directly toward the rising sun on the spring equinox. I hope the Sphinx has a pair of sunglasses handy.
- An Egg Can Be Balanced on One End During the Spring Equinox: Yes, it's possible to balance an egg on one end on the spring equinox, but it's actually also possible on any other day of the year. It's not the arrival of the spring equinox that matters as much as your supply of patience.
- It's Also Known as the Vernal Equinox: The word "vernal" comes from the Latin word "ver," meaning "spring."
- Saturn Has an Equinox, Too: You may think that Earth is the only planet to have a spring equinox, but that's not true. Saturn has a spring as well as a fall equinox. However, the seasons on Saturn are a lot longer, so the equinoxes of this planet happen every 15 years. I wouldn't want to wait that long; would you?
- The Japanese Celebrate Shunbun no Hi on the Spring Equinox: Shunbun no Hi is a national holiday in Japan. Many people spend it visiting with loved ones, enjoying nature, and tending to the graves of their family members.
- The Arrival of the Spring Equinox Isn't the Same for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: We live in the Northern Hemisphere, so our spring equinox is fast approaching. But people living in Australia and other places in the Southern Hemisphere are moving toward the arrival of autumn instead.
- Easter and the Spring Equinox Are Connected: Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. That's why Easter Sunday falls on a different date each year.
Think spring: It'll be here before we know it! Thanks for reading. - Alan