When is the vernal equinox? In 2015, the vernal equinox (which is also called the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere) falls on March 20 at 6:45 P.M. EDT. Enjoy more equinox facts, folklore, and more!
The Vernal Equinox
Ah, spring! This season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna.
The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” All over the world, days and nights are approximately equal. Today, the Sun rose exactly in the east and it will set exactly in the west.
At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the Sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. (However, the tilt of Earth relative to its plane of orbit, called the ecliptic plane, is always about 23.5 degrees.)
As this season begins, the length of daylight increases. See your local Sun rise and set times—and how the day length changes!
Question: Why doesn’t the vernal equinox (equal night) on March 20 have the same number of hours for day and night?
Answer: 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.’”
Question: According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on its end on the equinox. Is this true?
Answer: One spring, a few minutes before the vernal equinox, several Almanac editors tried this trick. For a full workday, 17 out of 24 eggs stood standing. Three days later, we tried this trick again and found similar results. Perhaps 3 days after the equinox was still too near. Try this yourself and let us know what happens!
Spring Folklore and Verse
One swallow does not make a spring.
Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.
In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.
Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.
The whole Earth smiles, thy coming to greet.
Signs of Spring
Spring is also the time when worms begin to emerge from the earth, ladybugs land on screen doors, green buds appear, birds chirp, and flowers begin to bloom. The vernal, or spring, equinox signals the beginning of nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere.
You can track when the seasons change by recording animal behaviors and the way that the plants grow. Listen to the new sounds and observe what you hear and see.
How do you know that spring is coming? Share your comment below!