It feels almost indulgent to celebrate the Spring Equinox- also known as the Vernal Equinox- this year being as much of the US had no winter to speak of, but it still marks markedly improved weather to come for those of us in winter-having states… as well as more opportunities for Sangria at sunset! (And also, I always celebrate March 20th, the best day of the whole year.)
The Spring Equinox is not actually a date, so much as a time- the event itself occurred at 05:14 this morning. Technically, the term “equinox” can be broken down into Latin, meaning roughly “equal night,” and is an astronomical event when the sun’s axis is perfectly aligned over the equator. The Spring Equinox’s autumnal equivalent always occurs on September 22nd, and marks the darker half of the year, when nights are longer weather colder. (Unless you live in Australia, where it is like, the opposite, or something.)
Given that until the last few centuries or so, humanity was rather superstitious, such a momentous astronomical event is of course imbued with many (mostly false) traditions and beliefs. Many Earthlings believe that balancing eggs, brooms or other difficult to balance items is easier on this day, but alas, that’s down to confirmation bias.
Earthsky.com explains that while our ancestors may not have as fully understood the meaning of the Spring Equinox and its counterpart, there have always been observable phenomena linked with the day:
“If they thought in terms of four directions, they might also have learned a fact of nature that occurs whenever there’s an equinox – whenever the sun crosses the celestial equator. Since the celestial equator intersects the horizon at due east and due west, the sun rises due east and sets due west on the day of the equinox, as seen from everywhere on the globe.”
Notably, scientists now are trying to get the terms widely accepted to be “March Equinox” and “September Equinox” rather than “Spring Equinox” and “Autumnal Equinox” to avoid “Northern hemisphere bias,” which exists- are you looking forward to longer days?