First Day of Seasons: 2014

When Do Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer Begin?

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See chart below for the exact dates and times of the annual equinoxes and solstices

Why do the seasons change? The four seasons are determined by shifting sunlight (not heat!)—which is determined by how our planet orbits the Sun and the tilt of its axis.

  • On the autumnal equinoxday and night are each about 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days after the autumnal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going southward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. See our First Day of Fall page!
  • The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at local noon. After this date, the days start getting "longer," i.e., the amount of daylight begins to increase. See our First Day of Winter page!
  • On the vernal equinox, day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. See our First Day of Spring page!

  • On the summer solsticewe enjoy the most daylight of the calendar year. The Sun reaches its most northern point in the sky at local noon. After this date, the days start getting "shorter," i.e., the length of daylight starts to decrease. See our First Day of Summer page!

Equinox solstice cycle
Credit: NASA

Seasons of 2014:
SPRING EQUINOX March 20, 12:57 P.M. EDT
SUMMER SOLSTICE June 21, 6:51 A.M. EDT
FALL EQUINOX September 22, 10:29 P.M. EDT
WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 6:03 P.M. EST
  •  

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Comments

The Caribbean, (where I hope

By Andy Warren on August 23

The Caribbean, (where I hope to retire):
December thru Febuary - Spring.
August thru September - Hurricane season.
The rest of the months - Summer.
There IS no "Winter"!

Lol

By kerbol76 on September 10

Lol

Two month hurricane season?

By Buzzkill on September 1

Two month hurricane season?

LOL!

I was seeing some total BS on the weather channel the other day making COMPLETELY FALSE CLAIMS like that and was wondering how they can get away with it.

The Atlantic hurricane is "officially" 6 full months. In reality though, it's closer to 8 or 9.

I lived in Florida for 5 years. Non-stop oppressive heat for 9 months a year. Nothing like spending Christmas morning with the AC going full blast.

It's nothing like west coast "heat". 90 degrees "caribbean" heat is like the about like 110 degrees of west coast heat.

Nobody "likes" it. You just have to try to endure it.

I lived 23 years in the

By Islander on September 2

I lived 23 years in the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico! Here we have 2 seasons:Wet and Dry! The wet season is actually also Hurricane Season (June-November). Florida is way different than the Caribbean. My father lives there and in Christmas is a little cold for my taste. Right now is 86 degrees here and I just have a fan on. In December, I actually don't need to turn the fan on, just open a window! I can go to the beach almost all year long and I love it. The only complain I have is the humidity levels, other than that is Paradise!

Is there a part on this site

By DarleneS

Is there a part on this site that tells where the sign is in which part of the body? I have surgery on my wrist on June 18

I suffer with

By Octerine

I suffer with dyscalculia,

Would anyone here please calculate the date and time for the very middle of the Fall season? I would really appreciate some help for this normally simple task.

Thank you

November 2

By Elizabeth Hilprecht on August 25

November 2

6th of October 14'15"

By Mozy

6th of October 14'15" (2.15PM)

Sorry, that was 6th of

By Mozy

Sorry, that was 6th of November 2014 at 2.15PM
Not Oct

November 6th =]

By Brandon J. S.

November 6th =]

when is dogwood winter when

By Helen Brown

when is dogwood winter
when is blackberry winter

"Blackberry Winter" is a cold

By Almanac Staff

"Blackberry Winter" is a cold snap around the time that blackberries bloom--May and June.

“Dogwood Winter” refers to a spring cold snap that usually comes around the time when the dogwood trees start to bloom. The flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) blooms in April and May.

Spring is officially here in

By Still Cold

Spring is officially here in a hour.. look out my window snow banks are around 7 feet high..Ice on Lake Superior 4 to 5 feet thick.. minus 20 last night...minus 40 to 50 plus with the wind most of the winter....and the days start getting shorter again in 3 months....oh joy

oh happy happy, joy joy! ;-)

By Lisa Parker

oh happy happy,
joy joy! ;-)

Spring came and the temps are

By Pito Perez

Spring came and the temps are 15 degrees above average...no water to plant, no snow to be seen, and the days only getting longer for the next 6 months. 9 months to grow still!!!! Thank you California!

AMEN

By stephanie q

AMEN

Why would the seasons start

By crezeeman

Why would the seasons start at the middle? Isn't solstice the MIDDLE of summer and winter? I certainly would never think of December as being mostly an autumn month. It is entirely within the winter season. So here is scientifically correct: 365.24218967/4=91.310547417
91.310547417/2=45.655273708
So spring starts exactly 45.655273708 days before spring equinox, summer starts 45.655273708 days before summer solstice, etc, etc...
We can get more accurate than this but I think we get the point. Today is NOT the first day of spring. And Who the hell believes winter starts only days before Christmas?! We're already balls deep into winter by then!

Where did you get 365._ _ _ _

By mnm209 on September 12

Where did you get 365._ _ _ _ etc # from?

When you talk about seasons,

By Lucius Germanus on August 18

When you talk about seasons, you are either talking about hours of sunlight in a day OR you are talking about your feelings about weather and what constitutes a season. I understand what you are saying, but there are a couple of problems. First problem is that there is a lag between the changing hours of daylight and the changes it causes in the weather. So, where i live in Kentucky, what i would consider the peak of summer is definitely well after June 21. Using your system fall has started by Aug 7. Which is often the hottest time of year here. In fact if you forget math and just write down the dates of when you FEEL that seasons begin and end, you will find that they are not at all equal lengths. I lived in Colorado one year and I swear it was winter for seven months with the other seasons covering the remaining five months. I understand your point and it makes some sense if you are talking ONLY about the number of hours of sunlight in a day. However, this has nothing at all to do with how you FEEL about when fall starts and ends or whether or not you have snow on your balls in March.

I agree with you 100%. The

By TNflash

I agree with you 100%. The way they call the seasons now is stupid because the season is already halfway over before they call it.

Our seasons are marked by

By Peter Metzler

Our seasons are marked by changes in the intensity of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, variations of which may cause animals to go into hibernation or to migrate, and plants to be dormant. Our sense of time, as determined with our calendar is more politically determined and does not conform with nature.

Northern

By Mickey Hall

Northern Hemisphere.

December; January; February. = Winter.

March; April; May. = Spring.

June; July; August. = Summer.

September; October; November. = Autumn.

Not scientifically correct, but climatically correct.

SIMPLES.

Actually, it takes from

By BrunoK

Actually, it takes from january to august to heat up (7 months) but only from august to january to cool down again (5 months). So, weather speeking, spring is actually longer than autumn. Season arent realy the same lenght, its just a simplification.

Plus, i agree with the offical summer months. Weather its warmer and show less rain between the 2nd half of june and the 2 nd half of september. The begining of june its colder and more instable then the beging of september.

So, with the data i have seen, the real weather seasons are:

21 Nov to 21 Fev = Winter (3 months)
21 Fev to 21 Jun = Spring (4 months)
21 Jun to 21 Sep = Autumn (3 months)
21 Sep to 21 Nov = Winter (2 months)

Are you forgetting summer?

By jimbosloath

Are you forgetting summer?

Yes, I meant: 21 Nov to 21

By BrunoK

Yes, I meant:

21 Nov to 21 Fev = Winter (3 months)
21 Fev to 21 Jun = Spring (4 months)
21 Jun to 21 Sep = Summer (3 months)
21 Sep to 21 Nov = Autumn (2 months)

Summer ISN'T EVEN COMING!!!!

By Long Winter.

Summer ISN'T EVEN COMING!!!! Its a ridiculously long winter right now dude... it s terrible.

Summer arrived in South GA in

By Sewell on September 7

Summer arrived in South GA in early May and is not going to leave anytime soon. Temperatures over 100° and all my grass is dead. :-(

We dont need summer here in

By ruben

We dont need summer here in el paso tx itgets so hot I can't stand it. Besides it almost never rains.we're always in a drought our plants are always under stress . I know its a desert so so you folks out there in the east should consider yourselfs lucky with all that rain its a blessing

The US Weather service uses

By Will Porter

The US Weather service uses your definition...
When they say, for example, this was the wettest spring they mean the calendar months March, April and May.
The "first day of Spring" terminology came to be because Christians did not want to print the names of pagan holy days (Vernal Equinox...) on their calendars.

lol maybe that's for

By bob johnes

lol maybe that's for Americans or other parts of the world, but for Canada its winter from October-april.

Here in the U.S.

By Donna Marie Chadwick

Here in the U.S. (mid-Atlantic region), this past winter (2013-2014) definitely started the winter-type weather in October. EARLY October. Now here we are in mid-March and we are still having many nights in the twenties and snow about once a week. None of that says "Spring" to me! LOL

This is so weird--it's

By Meadow Land

This is so weird--it's actually causing fights /disagreements amongst billions of what's wrong with the world as we know it and WHO CARES when whatever the seasons it is--all I know like Texas has from Colorado standpoints,Iknow of 4 short seasons before it's cold again and stays that way much longer than Texas and having relatives in Australia--when they have summer, it's still our winter.

Just suffice to say whatever whoever said it is what it is, give or add 2 or 3 days in NORTH AMERICA and let the rest of the world figure it out by whatever they believe in.

Whoever screamed,"What difference does it make!" has it correct so far!

LOL...U MEAN OUR NEXT PREZ?

By troutwoman on September 7

LOL...U MEAN OUR NEXT PREZ? LOVE IT! MOST PPL DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT UR TALKING ABOUT... SAD- BENGHAZI.R.I.P. ALL

Here's what should be in the

By It's unnatural

Here's what should be in the news "1964 U. S. Weather Service Development of Weather Station in Alaska to enhance rain fall across the agricultural belt line of the U. S." Wops! Sorry Mother Nature but, "We at the U.S. Weather Service can do things with the weather that reach up into the jet stream, that humans cannot even see, Science 101, simply elementary science knowledge will suffice it's the KISS theory (Keep It Simple Stupid) Ionization ring any bells with anyone? Air is an excellent electrical insulator, as a child growing up in the 60's reading was a favorite past time, Popular Science even greater some one may find an interesting article once published relating to the subject matter "The Weather" Spark of interest, try looking at how many times the Great Mississippi has Flooded all the way back to St Louis, try looking at the number of tornado's even in ten year cycle's bring that to present day do the math. Enjoy the weather it's a great day.

Where ever you are, if sun is

By kasun

Where ever you are, if sun is on top of you at high noon, that is the day summer starts to that place and so on. Though people try to, for convenience sake, it is not possible to standardize most of the happenings of nature. Things go wrong when you try to think like that. Convenience vs Accuracy.

The seasons are determined by

By Adam Steidl

The seasons are determined by the relative angle of the Earth to the Sun. This does not necessarily mean that after the Vernal Equinox it will suddenly be warm and flowerly and spring-like. It just means that the days will get longer in the Northern Hemisphere, and shorter in the Southern Hemisphere. Historically, since the last ice age, anyway, days start getting warmer after the Vernal Equinox, except in extreme locations, like on top of mountains, or in deserts, or near oceans.

The "days" getting longer and

By Sherry McCoy

The "days" getting longer and the "nights" getting shorter does not begin, however, at the Vernal Equinox. That trend begins at the Winter Solstice and continues until the Summer Solstice.

That's not what he said he

By Kramark

That's not what he said he said regarding the venal equinox - read more carefully - he compared N and S hemisphere.

The English always talk about

By Monica Cunningham

The English always talk about the weather and the seasons. Just a bit of fun, nice to have a laugh during all this rain.

Just because the BBC weather

By Monica Cunningham

Just because the BBC weather has announced that we are now in Spring, I think not, I have been around a longer than the "wizz kids" of today. Ever since I was a little girl Spring 21st March. Summer 21st June Autumn 21st September and Winter 21st December. Does everyone want to change everything?

You're right. What difference

By Torquil Macleod

You're right. What difference does a day make? Let's stick with the simple formula - 21st of the relevant month.......unless you're an astronomer, fortune teller etc.

But if summer starts June

By Mark Stockwell

But if summer starts June 21st, then mid summer's day is just 3 days later on the 24th. That can't be right!

Different sides of the world

By Chubby M

Different sides of the world

Always has been in my

By Monica Cunningham

Always has been in my day's!
still never mind.

I could have sworn the

By Chai

I could have sworn the Autumnal Equinox is September 23 this year!

The Autumnal Equinox is at

By PKVolTN

The Autumnal Equinox is at 10:57 pm EDT on Sept. 22. If you are 2 hours ahead of the Eastern US time zone, this would be Sept 23.

Spring in Sweden is according

By Christina, Sweden

Spring in Sweden is according to the Swedish met service when the median temperature is between 0 degrees Celsius and ten degrees Celsius for 7 Days. If in luck spring will arrive where I live at the end of february but can be delayed for a month. To me winter begins at the end of november or in the beginning of december.

I was after one of these

By M. Hermit

I was after one of these based on the southern hemisphere (I am Australian). Do you guys carry such an item? or do you have any idea where I could get one?

@ M. Hermit [Dates of

By Valerie Ann

@ M. Hermit
[Dates of Southern Hemisphere (Austral) seasons (According To):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%ADa_Blanca#Climate ]

In the southern (austral) hemisphere: summer starts on 21 December ending 21 March. Winter starts on 21 June, ending on 21 September.

However, according to my Google search results, on another website the beginning of the 4 seasons for the Northern Hemisphere is different according to the year ▬ stated as:
First day of spring 2014 - Northern Hemisphere - Mar 20, 2014
www.cute-calendar.com › ... › Seasons › First day of spring ‎
The first day of Spring is in 2014 on March 20 (according to the astronomical definition). It is also called the spring quinox. Spring is ...
Mar 20, 2015 First day of spring 2015
Mar 19, 2016 First day of spring 2016

On www.almanac.com the starting dates of the seasons is given and reason for them, and also why different seasons start at different times and dates based on the time zone you're in, etc., and if you want to try experiments like balancing an egg on the vernal equinox or some other eqinox, etc., I would suggest 1st checking for the 1st day of this year's seasons as well as equinoxes which are not on the 1st day of each season, at www.almanac.com, and then for the Southern (Austral) Hemisphere's seasons just re-label the 1st day of the summer as the 1st day of winter, following season is Spring, etc. You could also Google: 1st day of the seasons 2014, etc, at www. google.au

G’day, I’m an Aussie born and

By OZ

G’day, I’m an Aussie born and bred. In Australia the official first day of summer is December 1st, autumn March 1st, winter June 1st and spring September 1st. In this country the Equinoxes are just that and nothing more, likewise the Solstices.

In Australia, you are right,

By So am i Aussie born and bred

In Australia, you are right, it is a common to say that the seasons start on the first of the equinox month. But that is because it is spoken by purveyors of ignorance. Anyone sweating through a 30C+ day well into March would hardly say we are having Autumn weather. The 'seasons' are far more closely aligned to the equinii, all around the planet, including Australia. Shameful that many students in school here have no idea what makes a season, other than a date rolling over to the first of the month. Thankfully the idea of seasons is slowly changing here, to be more in line with how the rest of the planet undertand them to be.

Just swap the dates for the

By A Usher

Just swap the dates for the seasons.

The Southern Hemisphere Spring Equinox occurs at the exact same time as the Northern Hemisphere Fall Equinox...

The Summer Solstice in Australia will occur at the same time as the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.

All so interesting,do people

By doc of the bay.

All so interesting,do people around the Globe see more humidity and rain along with more Sun,i found 2013 the best for weather for many a year.

This discussion is very

By Paul Tilson

This discussion is very informative and very civilized. I commend everyone who participated. I didn't read all of the comments, but unlike most discussions on the web, I didn't see any vulgar language, cutting remarks, or any other off-color comments. This was educational and pleasant to read.

Some research done in

By James Carthew

Some research done in Australia (I do not have a reference) suggests that there are only two seasons for the northern states, Wet and Dry, and six seasons in the southern states. This division was based on weather, flora behaviour and fauna behaviour.

I agree! :) living here on

By cherita

I agree! :) living here on the southern Oregon coast for the last three years, after spending my whole life in the midwest, I can safely say that there ARE in fact two seasons here. Wet and Dry. Summers here are generally average of 60-75 with only fog to water the trees and plants, and in the winter around 55-65 with rain rain rain ;) Not sure if this is true or not but this part of the country is the last rain forest in the United States.

That is pretty much similar

By Isi

That is pretty much similar with that of Nigeria.

I live in the southern US

By carolyn waits

I live in the southern US state of Texas. I knowof only 4 seasons here in Texas. HOT, cold,
Wet & Dry. And I'm a bible believer. LOL!

In Australia. New Zealand n

By Chappelli

In Australia. New Zealand n Sth Africa we start winter on 1st day of June. This ERROR happend bcos we were started by the English who thought summer started sooner bcos it was hotter than ther homeland. They didnt factor in these places are closer to th equator. So they started seasons, falsley, earlier. Brisbane Sydney Caberra Melbourne Hobart Adelaide Perth all have warmer temperature averages in 1st 3weeks of March than 1st 3weeks of December. The same in reverse when talkin of winter.

John is right - you are

By Charles O'Flynn

John is right - you are incorrect and, from the tone of your email, not a lover of the Brits.

um.. but like, these are the

By Sarah K

um.. but like, these are the equinoxes and solstices, they aren't saying that it is the start of the seasons all over the world.... so... i'm confused, somebody help...

Completely wrong! You must be

By John Woodsman

Completely wrong! You must be referring to the meteological accounting seasons which generally start on 1st. The English seasons start 21st, 22nd just like elsewhere.

Who ever said that in the

By Mark Spicer

Who ever said that in the southern hemishpere Winter would officially start on the first of June rather than on the 21st in line with our winter solstice. If I was a farmer I would still be planting according to the cycles of the moon anyway.

Dear google Winter in the

By Paul Borowiak

Dear google Winter in the Southern Hemisphere begins on the first of June- what you need to do is google yourself.

Does anyone else find it a

By Rick Middleton

Does anyone else find it a bit weird to call tomorrow the "first day" of Summer. Since it marks the end of the lengthening of daylight it really is the middle of the warmer half of the year (in the n. hemisphere) even though it usually gets hotter over the next two months in that hemisphere. And do we really have four seasons? Our year is really more correctly thought of as biphasic instead of quadriphasic: a warmer half and a cooler half. I realize that the way we name our seasons long predates our understanding of the reason we have seasons and it is more fun to anticipate a seasonal change in quarters rather than halves but it isn't really based on rationality--and that's okay, too. There, I've put my two cents in.

It is long overdue to do away

By L.R

It is long overdue to do away with the counting of time on the basis of the Holy Roman Empire Anno 2013. With all the high tech, instant coffee and archeological findings the Collective Mind still is bullied by religions spearheaded by the Vatican. It would be a great advancement for our grandkids when the Collective Mind would show higher awareness and determine a point of substance on which basis to count time instead of the Holy Roman Empire. Quadriphasic keeps you on your toes for harvesting.

I'm a little confused -- when

By Baldwin

I'm a little confused -- when you refer to the Holy Roman Empire, do you actually mean the Roman Catholic Church? Those are two completely different things.

Today is the Winter Solstice in the North Hemisphere. It's been winter for a few weeks here, but it's a typical Georgia winter; we may get a record high of 75 F today. I miss snow.

THANK YOU!!!!!! that is

By cherita

THANK YOU!!!!!! that is all....

My thoughts exactly - why is

By Dylan

My thoughts exactly - why is the summer or winter solstice the Beginning of that season? Shouldn't it mark the mid-point? How can it be that Winter in the S Hemisphere starts on the 21 June Winter Solstice when immediately after that point the days start getting longer? Doesn't make sense to me.

You're spot on. Somebody told

By paulfrogprince

You're spot on. Somebody told me that 21st June is the first day of Summer. I said, "Where?" They replied, "Everywhere!" I think Australians would beg to differ! But it got me thinking. Taking into account all the astronomical, geographical, longitudinal, latitudinal,oceanic, climatic and meteorological variables, every day must be the first day of summer somewhere in the World? Strange how easy it is for most people in the World to believe that the exact opposite is true? I think that might be 3 cents worth. Sorry!

The dates for the beginning

By Marie Mayer

The dates for the beginning and end of months are based on the Gregorian calandar. If you go further back to the more pagan calandars, you'll find that the dates that are currently used for beginning/end of the seasons were actually the middle.

The beginnings were Samhain (October 31), Imbolc (February 2), Beltane (May 1), and Lughnasadh [Lammas Day] are the beginning.

The middle of the seasons are Yule/[Christmas], Ostara[Easter], Midsummer, and Mabon[Mid-Autumn]

I'll say it too, thank you

By Donna Middleton

I'll say it too, thank you Marie Mayer!

I agree with Kera, thank you

By cherita

I agree with Kera, thank you for being an intelligent person! We Celebrate the pagan holidays and season changes because they're all nature based and not religion based.

Thank you Marie Mayer for

By Kera

Thank you Marie Mayer for being an intelligent person.

Hi Rick, in Australia we're

By Cate68

Hi Rick, in Australia we're in the 1st month of winter. Our 'seasons' officially start: winter, 1st June; spring, 1 September; summer 1 December; Autumn (fall) 1 March.

Cate, glad to hear from "down

By Rick Middleton

Cate, glad to hear from "down under" (another northern conceit, though, isn't it; who decided the s. hemisphere is the "bottom" anyway?). By official start, I assume you mean by arbitrarily agreeing to call it so rather than based on the way the planet is moving along in its orbit, right? It doesn't suddenly get cooler on June 1, does it?

Yep, it's just an arbitrary

By Aussie

Yep, it's just an arbitrary date. Most people realise that it doesn't really start changing temperatures until the solstices/equinoxes.

But, really, none of the

By Rick Middleton

But, really, none of the calendar dates for what we call the seasons is associated with any kind of sudden temperature change. At the Autumnal equinox, maple leaves don't suddenly turn red. We basically move gradually between warm weather to cool weather to back again over and over. The idea of four separate, distinct seasons is really related more to social customs and human activity like agriculture (for planting, growing, harvesting and fallow times) isn't it?

There is a great site that

By Indenim

There is a great site that details the actual progress of the seasons as based on the quarters and cross-quarters: http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/ - it also provides an animated star clock that shows where we currently are in the orbit of the earth as of today and the tilt of the earth as it progresses through the orbital cusp point. Also, it was earlier mentioned that the tilt of the earth's axis is 23.5 degrees - that is incorrect - the current tilt of the earth's axis (as of mid-2013) is 23.439 degrees. The tilt of the earth's axis is affected by many factors, some regular and predictable (related to the precession of the equinoctes and the effecct of lunar gravity) and others unpredicatble (e.g. redistribution of mass due to earthquakes) - for instance, the great earthquakes of 2004 in the Indian Ocean basin and in 2011 at Japan in the Pacific Ocean basin actually slightly affected the tilt of the earth by moving larges masses of the Earth's material closer to the centre of the Earth. The Earth's axial tilt is currently decreasing, and may vary between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. It is postulated that when the Earth's tilt is at the maximum point of 24.5 degrees is when ice ages typically occur - and as well, ice ages also have an effect on the axial tilt, since they redistribute large amounts of mass (i.e., ice) towards the geographic poles. The after-affect of this mass redistribution is still being felt due to crustal rebound of areas of the Earth that were under massive volumes of ice during the most recent ice age (for instance, the Hudson Bay basin in Canada is currently rebounding by close to 2cm per annum due to the removal of the Laurentian ice sheet following this most recent period of global climate warming [unrelated, BTW, to any human-induced warming of the climate]).

Thank you so much for the

By Lynda Crossley

Thank you so much for the educated answer on the tilt of the earth. I knew the earth changed it axis recently but did not know it was linked to major earthquakes. I will be visiting the website you suggested. Great explanation. I too live 'downunder' and yes our date for the beginning of seasons is different to the north. Does anyone know the history of this fact?

Are there different first

By Lola Stepehens

Are there different first days of seasons in different countries? Im doing a report and can't answer what date spring starts in Greece.

In Russia winter officially

By Johanahan

In Russia winter officially starts on 1 of Jan, spring on 1 of March, summer - on 1 of June and Autumn on 1 of September.

The astronomical definition

By Almanac Staff

The astronomical definition of when a season begins (such as the March equinox: spring in the Northern hemisphere; fall in the southern) applies everywhere around the world (a set point in time, converted to local time zone).

However, different countries may celebrate the seasons at different times. For example, in Bulgaria, March 1 is often celebrated as the beginning of spring. Also on March 1, Helidonismata is a traditional Greek observance that celebrates the return of the swallows, marking spring's return, as well.

You might also be interested in Greek mythology as it relates to spring: the story of Demeter and Persephone.

the references to 'the

By Ted Alsop

the references to 'the longest day' and the 'shortest day' is in error. Each day of the year consists of 24 hours--it's the length of daylight hours that varies! I recommend you change the word day to daylight in order to be accurate.

Ted, we made some revisions

By Almanac Staff

Ted, we made some revisions to make it clear that we are referencing the amount of daylight in a calendar day. Thanks.

Ted, there are various

By Peter Nockolds

Ted, there are various meanings of the word 'day'. Day and night are often used as opposites.

Actually, To call a day

By Tomatha

Actually, To call a day exactly 24 hours is incorrect in every regard except the one on people's wrists (that is to say, the times when we arbitrarily assign tasks so everyone has a medium of understanding.) Also, the day varies by several seconds from thousands of subtle variables (including the earth's distance from the sun.)

Due east at the equator.

By Anonymous2222

Due east at the equator. It's always slightly south (or more) north of the tropic of cancer in the northern hemisphere.

Used to love the

By Ol Yankee

Used to love the Almanac...but it got too full of ad nonsense and yuppie eco-fashionista fluff pieces. I prefer my favorite small town cafe for the real news of the seasons.

The Old Farmer's Almanac has

By Almanac Staff

The Old Farmer's Almanac has not really changed in over 220 years. Hope you will check it out again and see that it is remarkably similar from cover to calendar pages.

I agree, the Old Farmer's

By celtblood

I agree, the Old Farmer's Almanac has maintained a consistent style throughout it's many decades of publication, and it is an indispensible tool for those of us who prefer to plant by the Moon, just as crucial as any hoe or sickle. (I only wish they'd correct the mis-naming of Summer and Winter Solstices as the beginning of those respective seasons-- they actually fall in the middle of them.)

does every season being on

By Uyen

does every season being on every full moon

No. As mentioned in the

By Almanac Staff

No. As mentioned in the article above, the first day of the season is determined by how our planet orbits the Sun and the tilt of its axis.

Is Dec. 21, 2012 the first

By Paul Taalman

Is Dec. 21, 2012 the first day of winter 2012 or the first day of winter 2013? Didn't we go through the winter of 2012 back in January of this year? So on March 20th, 2013 (the first day of Spring 2013) will we have just finished the winter of 2012 or the winter of 2013? Please clarify.
Regards,
Paul

As you've noticed, the winter

By Almanac Staff

As you've noticed, the winter season spans the end of one year and the beginning of the next in the Gregorian calendar. December 21, 2012, at 6:12 am EST starts the first day of winter 2012/2013 (often just listed as winter 2012). Winter 2013/2014 (winter 2013) would begin on December 21, 2013, at 12:11 pm EST.

In astronomy, each year in the Northern Hemisphere can be defined as beginning with the spring (vernal) equinox in March. The summer solstice occurs in June, the autumnal equinox in September, and the winter solstice in December. Astronomically speaking, in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is defined as when the Sun reaches its greatest declination (23-1/2 degrees) south of the celestial equator, around December 21. So, winter 2012 marks the time when the first day of winter begins for 2012/2013. It's the time when the Sun reaches its southernmost declination for the year 2012.

Thanks for the information we

By titiadams

Thanks for the information we studied most of this in geography years ago ..but its a good reminder and people should know that it varies in different parts of the world on their standard time. Although it shows spring in many parts the snow is still there but U may see tiny shoots coming up sooner or later.

Okay, I'm confused. Your

By Old Gardener

Okay, I'm confused. Your chart stated that the winter solstice begins at 6:03 p.m. EST, but above you say it's 12:11 EST. Which is correct? Am I missing something?

Hello, Old Gardener, Both are

By Almanac Staff

Hello, Old Gardener, Both are correct. There are two different years referenced. For the 21st of December 2013, winter begins at 12:11 pm EST.

If December 21st is the first

By celtblood

If December 21st is the first day of Winter, why has it been referred to as Midwinter through the centuries? Is December 21st (or 20th, as it varies) not the point in time when the days are the shortest, with the next day being the time when the days begin to lengthen? And would this not, in turn, dictate that Winter proper actually begins in November? Would it not have to follow that Midsummer/Summer Solstice marks the high point of the Sun's energy and, after this, the shortening of our annual cycle of daylight hours through until the Midwinter/Winter Solstice, when the days begin to lengthen once again? If so, how could the Summer Solstice possibly be the beginning of Summer or the Winter Solstice possibly be the beginning of Winter?

The Celts divided the year into two major halves, Winter and Summer, with the cross-quarter events being the Spring Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox. The year began on November 1st, the beginning of Winter. Midwinter was genuinely the middle of Winter, ending on the Spring Equinox as Winter began to wane and the foliage bloomed. Summer officially began on May 1st, as by this time the growing season was in full swing, with the last vestiges of the Winter season behind us. Midsummer, the longest day, was the beginning of the waning cycle, as Summer began to move toward Winter. The Autumnal Equinox (generally the approximate harvest time) marked the manifestation of the seasonal changes preceeding Winter's arrival, again on November 1st. Since agriculture was the dominant industry, this reflected the agrarian/astronomical calendar cycle, which was the basis for our modern calendars.

I've addressed this before, and am still perplexed as to why anyone would insist on referring to the Winter and Summer solstices as the beginning of their respective seasons, when they clearly are not at all.

These MID-Summer and MID-Winter designations are the correct astronimical divisions of the year, as they are based on the actual effect of the solar cycle on the Earth's seasons.

I realise there are all these newer ideologies and theories on when the seasons begin and end (meteorlogical, temperature and regional variances, etc.), but the fact remains that Midsummer and Midwinter are precisely that-- the middle of these seasons, and not by any means the beginning. (Unless, of course, the Sun is wrong in his astronomical movements, and if so someone had better inform him.)

Yes, the definition of when a

By Almanac Staff

Yes, the definition of when a season begins can vary between countries, cultures, organizations, and individuals. For example, the ancient Celts considered equinoxes and solstices (called quarter days) as the midway points of the seasons. Their cross-quarter days (halfway between quarter days) were the beginning of the seasons. Astronomically speaking, however, the seasons begin at the equinoxes and solstices, which define four unique points along Earth’s orbit, in which the Northern or Southern Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun (summer), away from the Sun (winter), or is neutral--neither leaning toward nor away from the Sun (spring, autumn).

An astronomical definition does not directly take into account what is going on within Earth’s atmosphere. Other definitions focus on how the Sun’s intensity (energy) or heat affects the surface. A meteorological definition of seasons, for example, often is based on temperature. An international meteorological definition separates the year into groups of three months: March 1 is the beginning of spring; June 1 starts summer; September 1, autumn; and December 1, winter. However, days of greatest warmth and cold (on average), or length of season, can vary by region depending on their proximity to water, latitude, prevailing winds, etc.

Other seasonal definitions take into account annual responses by plants and animals. Or, define the seasons according to religious or cultural criteria.

For The Old Farmer’s Almanac, because we are a calendar of the heavens, we officially use the astronomical definition. But, we certainly agree that there is more than one way to define when the seasons begin.

Dear OFA...How do I love

By H20Sun&Fun

Dear OFA...How do I love thee? In many countless ways! Keep on keeping on!

Aww. Shucks. We appreciate

By Almanac Staff

Aww. Shucks. We appreciate the kind words. Your obedient servant, The Old Farmer's Almanac

Great Website. 09/17/2012,

By Doctor Stone

Great Website.

09/17/2012, Monday

I initially visited this website in order to determine the exact date and time of The Autumnal Equinox, and The Winter Solstice for 2012, which [according to the valuable information available here] is 09/22/2012, Saturday and 12/21/2012, Friday. While I was here I read some other very interesting information also. This is great website with wonderful resources. Thank you. Dr. Stone / Tampa, Florida, United States.

Is this winter nit the end of

By Big Bill

Is this winter nit the end of the Mayan Calender as we understand it. I was told it is the precise moment that all the planets will allign in a strait line for the first time in many centuries. the dawn of a new era as it seems. will be interesting to see if it is really just another y2k

Hi, Big Bill, It's a myth.

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Big Bill, It's a myth. See more in our free Almanac Companion enewsletter here: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3a44d786956aa578740994626&id=48413fa70e

Here is an excellent article

By Linda Monr

Here is an excellent article showing some Christian and Jewish traditions that revolve around the summer solstice. http://www.examiner.com/article/christianity-and-the-summer-solstice

I have been waiting for

By Jeff Tatum

I have been waiting for 2012-12-21 for 40 years. I didn't even know if I would still be here. Now just 180 days.......... I don't think anything will happen, but I will be up before the Chicken. Just in case. LOL

There are several

By Almanac Staff

There are several interpretations as to when each season begins.
In North America, calendars commonly use the astronomical definition. It is true that various countries, cultures, religions, organizations, and individuals may use definitions other than the astronomical. Because we are an almanac that provides astronomical data, however, that’s why we use the astronomical definition. For our weather predictions, however, we start with a more meteorological definition by providing Nov-March “winter” predictions, Apr-May for spring, June-Aug for summer and Sept/Oct for fall. Hope this is helpful. --Your OFA editors

I am afraid that I must agree

By SCV

I am afraid that I must agree with Jonathan. It is not simply "various countries, cultures, religions. . ." that define seasons in a variety of ways, but more so different latitudes. The so-called "astronomical" dates might seem to be more objective and authoritative, but in defining seasons as phenomena that occur uniformly across an entire hemisphere, we ignore the curvature of the earth and the tremendous variation in climate that occurs between the equator and the poles. The astronomical dates might make sense for someone living on the moon and seeing the earth as a flat disc, but for those of us living on the surface of the earth, seasons start and end at a variety of times. I think that the OFA should resist the popular compulsion to have "official" dates for the seasons and instead accept the more scientifically and historically accurate definition of seasons as annual changes in levels of sunlight, temperature, and precipitation that vary according to latitude and climate.

I am sorry but your

By Jonathan

I am sorry but your contention that the first day of spring is the equinox, the first day of summer the solstice, etc., simply is not true. The so called beginning of summer (the summer solstice around June 21st) and the end (the equinox around Sept 21 or 22) is merely the astronomical beginning and end of summer, nothing more nothing less. The meteorological beginning and end of summer is June 1st and August 31st respectively. I, and I think most people, tend to consider the meteorological time to be more accurate. Contrary to popular belief there is no official beginning and end of the seasons. No scientific or governmental body has ever formally bestowed such a designation. Again, June 21 or 22 to Sept. 21 or 22 (or Sep. 21 to Dec. 21 for Fall, etc.) are merely the astronomical beginning and end of summer it is not the "official" beginning or ending. For more information go here:

Is it true that you can

By Den

Is it true that you can balance an egg during the spring equinox ??

Yes, it is true and I did it.

By zedex99

Yes, it is true and I did it. I am trying to post one of the photos I took but haven't had any luck yet. If anyone knows how to post a JPEG here please adda acomment with the methodology.

Thank you for this great

By Munchesmom

Thank you for this great info! Spring is my fav season. Even wrote a paper on Spring when I had to take English Comp (tested out of it 40 years ago as a college freshman) in the late 90s as a prereq to getting my RN degree. Love "The Farmer's Almanac," and grew up with it always on the shelf next to the phone back in the day. Thanks bunches!

On Mar 17th the sunrise and

By question

On Mar 17th the sunrise and sunset will be exactly 12 hours apart..so how do they come up with the 20th?

Great question. You are

By Almanac Staff

Great question. You are correct. The "equal" night/day usually comes a few days before the equinox. Our former astronomer, George Greenstein, had this to say: "There are two reasons. First, light rays from the Sun are bent by the Earth's atmosphere. (This is why the Sun appears squashed when it sets.) They are bent in such a way that we are actually able to see the Sun before it rises and after it sets. The second reason is that daytime begins the moment any part of the Sun is over the horizon, and it is not over until the last part of the Sun has set. If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’”

I have a fairly simple

By yug

I have a fairly simple question.
Does the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere occur at the same time as the summer solstice in the Southern hemisphere?
If there is a lag in the exact time, is that lag due to the "wobble" of the Earth on it's axis?
Enquiring minds wander...

yug...

Yes, both solstices occur at

By Miranda Mowrey

Yes, both solstices occur at the same time. The northern axis points towards the Earth, creating more exposure, summer. On the directly oppisite side of the world, the southern hemisphere is in winter, because the southern axis is pointed away from the sun, becoming less exposed to sunlight. Both are solstises because the sun is either facing the Northern or Southern hemisphere, not the equator, which results in equinox. :)

Hi All,   It is my

By Heidi Stonehill

Hi All,
 
It is my understanding that the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere occur at the same point in time. However, local time, due to time zones, will vary. At the December solstice, Earth reaches a spot in its orbit such that its northern axis points the farthest away from the Sun (Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees away from an upright position). The timing of this event is not dependent on where you are on Earth (such as a sunrise would be). However, the local time will change. Astronomers often list these events in Universal Time (UT), which is tied in to the time at Greenwich, England (0 degree longitude). From there, we need to convert to our local time.
 
Sometimes, the seasons occur near midnight. Therefore, as the event gets translated into local time, it may occur on one of two days (late evening of one day or early morning of the next day). This situation is happening for the December solstice in 2011. In Universal Time, the December solstice occurs on December 22 at the 5th hour 30th minute. In Eastern Standard Time, this is 12:30 am on December 22. However, in Central Time, this is December 21 at 11:30 pm; Mountain Standard is December 21 at 10:30 pm; Pacific Standard is December 21 at 9:30 pm, etc.
 
Hope this helps!
 
Heidi Stonehill
The Old Farmer's Almanac

Thanks Heidi your explanation

By titiadams

Thanks Heidi your explanation is informative.

Thanks Heidi!

By Anonymous Al

Thanks Heidi!

After reading this I, of

By Harry Cohoon

After reading this I, of course understand the time zones, but it seems the season change may be at the same time all over the US? or does it come one hour after the previous time zone? In example Spring at 0700 EDT is also at 0700 CST?

A good question. Perhaps some

By neilyogi

A good question. Perhaps some Australians can help

It would appear that the

By neilyogi

It would appear that the Solstice occurs this year on both the 21st and the 22nd -- depending on your time zone -- am I wrong?

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2011.

By shand

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2011. After Spring, Fall is my fave time of year. Love the smell of the fresh air as the temps change.

Love the Almanac ,too. From the time I was about 13 my Mom always made sure Santa put a copy of the Almanac in my Xmas stocking. Always something interesting to learn. Since my parents have moved on to the 'next realm' I make sure to get myself an Almanac for Xmas every year. It gets picked up by everyone that stops by over the holidays.

I always look at the almanac

By marycorns

I always look at the almanac to help me figure out when I'm going to plant my vegetable garden each year. It is something that my grandmother taught me to do to get the most out of the gardening season. I've even planted my vegetables in pots before the season starts so that I can transplant them outside and get a head start.

The Almanac sits near our

By ColoRay

The Almanac sits near our couch and is viewed often and by many... Thanks So Much

I love the Almanac, too. It

By Kimberley

I love the Almanac, too. It is full of interesting and very important information. Thanks, Kimberley

There is so much to learn

By Reade Linam

There is so much to learn from studying the past. Washington is no match for Mother Nature.

What would we do without

By Dwight Doggett

What would we do without it?
I for one would be lost

when does the northern

By kylee

when does the northern hemisphere have spring? Some years it will be on a different day or years.;

My Mother used to get these

By Deremiah CPE

My Mother used to get these same exact Almanac's back in the day...it's sooo beautiful making this connection. KEEP READING this stuff...I love you...by Deremiah *CPE

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