Vernal (Spring) Equinox
- The word equinox comes from Latin and means, “equality of night and day.”
- At this point in time, the sun was directly over a specific point on the Earth’s equator moving northward.
- Equinoxes are about more than astrology.
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- The 2020 equinox is the earliest that has occurred in 124 years and fell on 19th of March.
- The exact moment of the equinox occurred on Thursday night at 11:49 p.m. EDT (0349 GMT on March 20).
- At this time, the Earth reached the point in its orbit where its axis isn’t tilted towards or away from the sun. Thus, the sun was directly over a specific point on the Earth’s equator moving northward. On the sky, it’s where the ecliptic and celestial equator cross each other.
- On the day of the equinox, the sun will appear to rise exactly east and set exactly west.
- Daytime and nighttime are often said to be equally long with the equinox, but this is a common misconception — the day can be up to 8 minutes longer, depending on your latitude.
- The sun is above the horizon half the day and below for half.
- Astronomers can calculate the moment of the vernal equinox right down to the nearest second.
- This year the sun appeared directly overhead about 80 kilometers south of Gorontalo, a province of Indonesia — often referred to as the “Emerald of the Equator” — on the island of Sulawesi, on the equator in the Gulf of Tomini.
- In the days that follow, the direct rays of the sun migrate to the north of the equator and the length of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere will correspondingly appear to increase.
- This will be the earliest that the vernal equinox to occur across in 124 years. This is because of variation of the date of leap years.
- Now, 2020 is a leap year (meaning that the month of February had one extra day) is not the reason for the early arrival of this year’s equinox. Rather, it is the leap year that we observed in the year 2000.
- So, thanks to February having an extra day in 2000, the date of the equinox slipped back a day to March 20.
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