The spring or vernal equinox is almost here: It happens on March 19th this year. But do you know what happens at the time of the spring equinox? If not, this is your lucky day! Discover the incredible changes that take place during the spring equinox here.
12 Hours of Light, 12 Hours of Dark
The Latin word "equinox" means "equal night." This refers to the fact that during the spring equinox, there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. In addition, the sun rises due east and sets due west. This happens just twice a year. The other time is during the autumnal equinox. During the spring equinox, Earth's axis is perpendicular to the rays of the sun, and the sun is shining directly over Earth's equator.
Changes Happening on Earth
The spring equinox is connected with the beginning of the spring season. Daylight hours grow longer in the Northern Hemisphere during this time. Meanwhile, daylight hours grow shorter in the Southern Hemisphere. As the daylight hours grow longer and temperatures rise in the Northern Hemisphere, seeds start to grow and plants bloom. The winds are softer, and animals are beginning to come out of hibernation. You're likely to find more hair on the living room carpet as your dog and cat are shedding their winter coats. And not surprisingly, people start getting outside more as the sun is rising earlier and setting later. You may find yourself hopping into the car, backing out of the carport, and rolling down the windows for an impromptu road trip!
The First Day of Spring Is …
According to the astronomical calendar, the first day of spring is March 19, 2020. But if you remember the first day of spring being later than that, you're not wrong. It's actually earlier this year than it usually is! That's because the exact moment when the equinox happens, when Earth and the sun are in the exact right positions, can vary depending on your local time zone. Years ago, the first day of spring often fell on March 21, though lately, it's more often been on the 20th.
However, not all scientists agree on this day as the official first day of spring. Climate scientists use the meteorological calendar instead, which is divided into four seasons with each season lasting three months. These scientists consider the first day of spring to be March 1. Climate scientists have found that using the meteorological calendar instead of the astronomical calendar helps them in their work of gathering accurate statistics and making forecasts.
Interesting Facts About the Spring Equinox
- Visit El Castillo, a pyramid in Mexico, and you'll see an illusion of a serpent making its way down the steps on the spring equinox
- Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox occurs. This year, it's on April 12.
- Some people believe you can stand an egg upright on the vernal equinox because of the position of Earth and the sun. But this is just a myth. Actually, you can stand an egg on its end any day of the year, but it depends on the characteristics of the egg itself and definitely takes patience.
When you take a closer look at the spring equinox, it's hard not to be astounded by all of the transformations that happen when winter turns to spring. I hope you get outside and take in all of the wonderful changes happening in nature. Thanks for reading. - Alan