First Days of Seasons 2018

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

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter 360

Find equinox and solstice dates for 2018—specifically, the March equinox, the June solstice, the September equinox, and the December solstice.

When Do the Seasons of the Year Begin?

Listed below are the equinox and solstice dates and times, based on the Eastern Time Zone (ET). Adjust to your time zone. Note that an almanac is an astronomical “calendar of the heavens;” these dates are not based on local meteorology.

For readers of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, these dates mark the start of the spring, summer, autumn, and winter seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.

Note: The times are based on Eastern time. Subtract 3 hours for Pacific time, 2 hours for Mountain time, 1 hour for Central time, or whatever is relevant to your time zone.

Seasons of 2018:
SPRING EQUINOX March 20, 12:15 P.M. EDT
FALL EQUINOX September 22, 9:54 P.M. EDT
WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 5:23 P.M. EST
Seasons of 2019:
SPRING EQUINOX March 20, 5:58 P.M. EDT
FALL EQUINOX September 23, 3:50 A.M. EDT
WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 11:19 P.M. EST

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.

Equinox solstice cycle
Photo Credit: NASA


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

Crocus field spring


On the summer solstice, we 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

Sunflower bees


On the autumnal equinox, day 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.

Fall leaves


The winter solstice is the “shortest day” of the year, meaning the least amount of sunlight. 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.

Winter solstice

What’s your favorite season—and why? Let us know in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Favorite season

Winter, for the shortest length of daylight. I prefer the cold + dark. Less work + maintenance to take care of outside, no gardens to clean up or weed, no grass to mow, only one application of spf needed on these shorter winter days. Plus I love my sweaters + fleece, my coats and winter hats, my wool things. I’m happiest inside looking out at a snowstorm.

Favorite season

Where I live now in the mountains, I love Fall, because it's cooling, even though we don't get very many super hot days. In winter, I love more rain and the beauty of the snowy days and the cozy warmth inside..... I am 78, so, I don't get out in the snow except when necessary. I love the beautiful days of Spring when the trees and flowers are waking up and the cool days the windows can be opened to enjoy the scents of spring in the air. I love the wonderful four seasons I have enjoyed the past five years especially, because most of my life I lived in Bakersfield, can where there is only two seasons, coolish winter and early spring and late fall. And pretty much hellishl summers that last generally from May to mid October.

Seasons of Favor...

Love Spring, Summer and Winter equally. Those periods offer great diverse outdoor activity time here in Maine. Fall in New England is gorgeous for a while, but then presents way too much cleanup work to be completely enjoyable, until the snow arrives. The nature and short duration of each of my favorite seasons definitely pushes me to get as much out of each one and keeps me very active. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Spring! Late Winter, early

Spring! Late Winter, early Spring actually. By the Summer Solstice even though I hold onto my attitude of good weather until November.. and the Winter Solstice has its purpose and beauty, I always like the lengthening days rather than the shortening.

Earth needs a break

What a beautiful planet we live on and I agree with the comments on all the metals and pollution. Are group studies mule deer and were finding that are pollution and unpredictable weather patterns and science are killing the deer with polluted rains in streams and in soils. And is having a big affect on there breeding seasons. There something and a Idea a child said the other day. She said why don't we stop businesses with drive thru.(walk in and takeout or dine in). She said think all the cars in a day that would be turned off not sitting idle and polluting our cities and less pollution, and also not to.mention most these places are not healthy to eat at anyway. Good idea young one. It's a start and everyone can do.

Good idea, take it one step further.

If everyone would ride a bicycle, the Earth would be cleaner and everyone would be healthier.

Good idea, take it one step further.

If everyone would ride a bicycle, the Earth would be cleaner and everyone would be healthier.

The Seasons

Pretty soon I am sad to say most of this science and predictions will not be accurate. These idiots keep spraying our skis with aluminum and heavy metals that cause everyone more health problems than they know but at the same time it changes the amount of sunlight we receive and make the rain come down more than it should. LOOK AT TEXAS !


Some predictions I disagree with and some, I not only agree with, but I embrace them as well. Global warming? GREAT!!! Since we are a couple thousand years overdue for an ice age, I say warm it up! :)
You are not real specific in your statement at all. (I'm kind of surprised I am even attempting to make a statement with regards to that which you wrote)....
Ok. Look at Texas? What? I live in Texas and I do not own skis for snow or for water. I know many people who have one, the other, or both. They have never mentioned anything about aluminum having been sprayed on their skis...
I decided a few years ago to only worry about myself and my own actions in this world. To waste time and energy worrying about things over which I have no control is not something I want to do any longer. As it turns out, I am much happier and more productive now.


FYI: Aluminum is not a "heavy metal". Its atomic number is 13, one of the lighter elements.
From Wikipedia: "By mass, aluminum makes up about 8% of the Earth's crust; it is the third most abundant element after oxygen and silicon and the most abundant metal in the crust. .....Despite its prevalence in the environment, no known form of life uses aluminium salts metabolically, but aluminium is well tolerated by plants and animals."
So...your assertion about it is incorrect.


Howdy -- Again -- Farmer's Almanac,
Again: Thank You For Your Great Work Over These Decades!
===> Please Note That I Was Wrong! <===
It Must Be That Your Diagram Is -- Right --, Because:
In The Northern Hemisphere The Path Of The Sun Is High In The Sky During The Summer And Low In The Sky In The Winter.
Please Accept My Apology For My Mistake.
Possibly, the Earth might be actually closer to the sun distance-wise in the Northern Hemisphere's Winter, and farther from the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere's Summer. I am Not Sure About This!
Thanks & God Bless All!
Gary Internet Participant

seasonal changes

Thank you for your well wishes!

As you discovered, the diagram is correct, even though it would seem that it should be the opposite. Our closest position to the Sun for the year was in January (called perihelion); it is farthest away in July (aphelion). But it’s not the proximity of Earth to the Sun but the angle of the Sun’s rays that create the seasons. In winter, the angle of the Sun’s rays is low in the Northern Hemisphere, so the Sun’s energy is distributed over a larger area, weakening its intensity in any one place (sort of like the light from a tilted flashlight falling on a ball); the days are also shorter than they are in summertime, so that we receive less energy from the Sun.

At the spring and fall equinoxes, we are neither tilted toward nor away from the Sun, which means that at the Equator, the Sun’s rays are coming in at about a 90 degree angle—so the energy there is concentrated along a smaller surface. However, at the higher latitudes, such North America, the Sun’s rays are still being received at more of an angle, so we’re getting less intense rays than the Equator, and things are still a bit cool. As the spring days progress toward the summer solstice, the angle of the Sun’s rays become more direct, and the days are also getting longer, which increases the amount of energy that we are receiving. So, we’re getting more energy as spring progresses, resulting in warmer temperatures. Meanwhile the ground and water are absorbing this energy and releasing it. Water can hold more than earth, but in both cases, it takes a while before they can warm up enough so that they are receiving as much energy as they release, so that we feel the warmer temperatures. The most direct sunlight that we receive occurs at the summer solstice, which is also the longest day, but again, the full effect temperature-wise won’t occur until a little later. Eventually, though, the loss of heat will overtake the amount of heat the Earth receives, because of the decreasing angle of sunlight and the decreasing day length as Earth approaches the fall equinox and then the winter solstice. Then the cycle begins anew.

Hope this helps!


Howdy -- Again -- Almanac,
Again: Thank You For Your Great Work Over These Decades!
Please Note That I Was Wrong!
It Must Be that your Diagram Is Right, Because The Path Of The Sun Is High In The Sky During The Summer And Low In The Sky In The Winter
===> Beautiful Diagram Of "Why Do The Seasons Change?" Has An Error:

Beautiful Diagram Of "Why Do The Seasons Change?" Has An Error

Howdy Almanac,
Thank You For Your Great Work Over These Decades!
===> Beautiful Diagram Of "Why Do The Seasons Change?" Has An Error:
At the Winter and Summer Solstices, the tilt of the Earth is backwards. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is tilted toward the Sun and is tilted away from the Sun in the Summer. This is why the seasons are somewhat milder in the Northern Hemispheere.
The Solution is to simply reverse the words 'Winter" and 'Summer" and to reverse the words "Vernal" and "Autumnal".
Please, verify that I am right before changing the diagram, and please, do not just disregard what I am sharing here. Please, remember, The Farmer's Almanac has a wonderful record and reputation of being honest and as accurate as possible.
Thank You and God Bless All,
Genesis 01:31
Gary Internet Participant

Thank You

for your informative and entertaining I (attempt) to make the transition from traditional religions, mainly Roman Catholic, I find this (your site) to be quite comforting.....♥

Wrong time zones

GMT - what's all this Yank rubbish? If summer starts on 21/6 (day/month/year - logical format) just after midnight, that means it actually starts on 20/6 GMT (GMT where time is actually measured from). 0/5!

Correction, you confused me.

Correction, you confused me. Summer '17 starts:
(June Solstice/Start of smmer) Worcester, England, United Kingdom is on
Wednesday, 21 June 2017, 05:24.
However - 'June Solstice' is the 'longest' day, of sunshine (still 24 hours). This means that you're getting less sunshine each day as summer progresses! Maybe we should just use Calendar Seasons: Summer = June/July/August, etc. Which pushes the Summer Soltice a bit closer to the middle of summer, instead of right at the start, which makes more sense.

Goat, You're Turned Around

When it's 12:24 a.m. in New York (EDT), it's 04:24 a.m. in London (GMT) on the same day. It's the previous day in westward time zones.

Regarding the date structure, remember that the Farmer's Almanac is an American publication and, thus, supports American usage. I'm not saying it's correct. It's just the way dates are abbreviated here.


Traditional festivals, wear garlands of flowers

time zones

how do I subtract 3 to what I am confused on that from what to what I do not understand it at all.

greg Jackson

Subtract three hours to the

Subtract three hours to the time if you are in the Pacific time zone.

Australia vs Canada

When it's winter in Canada it's summer in Australia. So does Canada follow Australia's spring/summer or does Australia follow Canada's fall/winter. Curious, food for thought!

That image!!

Can you please tell me... Who is the photographer/designer of the image at the top of this page (with the circular sky - showing all the seasons)?

seasons picture

Hi Adam, It’s a really great image, isn’t it? This particular image is “stock,” and free to use if you wish. Enjoy, and thanks for asking!  Your OFA editors.

How to make your own using your own picture(s)

Hi, recent coincidental find is an android app that came recommended to me called "FX Pro" by "Tiny Planet". I you've access to an Android device and Google Play, simply search the Play Store for, "Tiny Planet FX Pro", you'll know you've found it by the similar styled app icon.

Enjoy Adam!. Also my thanks and wishing a prosperous New Year to all at 'The Old Farmers Almanac'.


general comment

I find this site helpful and the comments sometimes informative but definitely entertaining:))

Seasons start and end dates for Fort Walton Beach, Floida

What I would like to know is can I lookup this information using my zip code to get more accurate dates ?

start of seasons

Hi Vicki, For 2016, the autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox are the the same dates across North America, however, the exact time your will shift according to your time zone. You may find this page helpful for a time and date calculator:  All the best, the OFA editors

First Days of the Seasons

When perusing the above illustration of the Earth's rotation, I was wondering if the 3-degree change in the position of the Earth's axis, caused by the massive Pacific earthquake responsible for the disaster of Fukushima, had been factored in. This natural occurrence has been sited as another significant reason for the climate and weather changes we're experiencing, especially in Alaska and other northern regions. Also, the currents of the Pacific have now succeeded in carrying the radiation-contaminated waters leaking from the Fukushima disaster full circle, contributing to rising ocean surface temperatures and irreversible pollution.

Not really

There most certainly hasn't been a sudden 3 degree change in the earth's axis (whatever that might mean). Nor has the radiation leak made any difference to water temperature - it was truly a tiny leak, and even if all the energy of the whole power station were used to heat the oceans, it would make zero measurable difference.