When Do the Seasons Start in 2018–2019?

Celebrate The First Days of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall

December 1, 2018
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter 360

When do the seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall—start? Here are your equinox and solstice dates for 2018 and 2019—plus the definition of the astronomical season versus the meteorological season.

When Do the Seasons Begin?

Each season has both an astronomical start and a meteorological start. It sounds complicated, but trust us, it’s not! The astronomical start date is based on the position of the Sun in relation to the Earth, while the meteorological start date is based on the 12-month calendar and the annual temperature cycle. See below for a more in-depth explanation.

The First Days of the Seasons

Note: These times are based on Eastern time (ET). Subtract 3 hours for Pacific time, 2 hours for Mountain time, 1 hour for Central time, and so on.

Seasons of 2018 Astronomical Start Meteorological Start
SPRING Tuesday, March 20, 12:15 P.M. EDT Thursday, March 1
SUMMER Thursday, June 21, 6:07 A.M. EDT Friday, June 1
FALL Saturday, September 22, 9:54 P.M. EDT Saturday, September 1
WINTER Friday, December 21, 5:23 P.M. EST Saturday, December 1
Seasons of 2019 Astronomical Start Meteorological Start
SPRING Wednesday, March 20, 5:58 P.M. EDT Friday, March 1
SUMMER Friday, June 21, 11:54 A.M. EDT Saturday, June 1
FALL Monday, September 23, 3:50 A.M. EDT Sunday, September 1
WINTER Saturday, December 21, 11:19 P.M. EST Sunday, December 1

Astronomical Season vs. Meteorological Season

The astronomical start of a season is based on the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun. More specifically, the start of each season is marked by either a solstice (for winter and summer) or an equinox (for spring and autumn). A solstice is when the Sun reaches the most southerly or northerly point in the sky, while an equinox is when the Sun passes over Earth’s equator. Because of leap years, the dates of the equinoxes and solstices can shift by a day or two over time, causing the start dates of the seasons to shift, too.

In contrast, the meteorological start of a season is based on the annual temperature cycle and the 12-month calendar. According to this definition, each season begins on the first of a particular month and lasts for three months: Spring begins on March 1, summer on June 1, autumn on September 1, and winter on December 1. Climate scientists and meteorologists created this definition to make it easier to keep records of the weather, since the start of each meteorological season doesn’t change from year to year.

Because an almanac is an astronomical “calendar of the heavens,” The Old Farmer’s Almanac follows the astronomical definition of the seasons. However, we have listed both dates for each season above.

Why Do the Seasons Change?

We have the four seasons because of shifting sunlight (not temperature!)—which is determined by how the Earth orbits the Sun and the tilt of our planet’s axis.

Equinox solstice cycle
Photo Credit: NASA

Spring

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

Summer

On the summer solstice, we enjoy the most daylight of the calendar year. The Sun reaches its most northern point in the sky (in the Northern Hemisphere) 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

Fall

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

Winter

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 (in the Northern Hemisphere) 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

The beginning points of the seasons.

Dear Old Farmer's Almanac:

How could you get this one wrong? The solstices and equinoxes are the mid points of the seasons, not the beginning of the seasons. Spring most often begins on February 2. The vernal equinox, on 3/21 is the mid point of Spring. Summer begins on May 1. You know, May day. Midsummer, it seems Shakespeare knew better, is the Summer solstice, the mid point of Summer. Please get this right.

Season starts

Hi, Kevin, You are among those who champion the traditional season starts—on the Quarter Days (the solstices and equinoxes) and the corresponding Cross-Quarter Days (the mid-points between the Quarter Days). We have addressed this on the Almanac pages and we will bring this information to the Web site. However, it is not likely to change the predominant view; the current seasonal calendar has been too long and deeply engrained in the public seasonal psyche to change many hearts and minds. So we will continue to acknowledge also these familiar dates and bring the others to (greater) light. We salute you for recognizing this distinction!

How to determine the beginning and end of each season?

Hi Kevin, I have always been curious about knowing the beginning and ending of the four seasons of the year. Actually, is there a way to calculate the seasons? Here in Guyana we have the wet and dry 'seasons'. And as such, I do not know how to determine the beginning and ending of each season. I must say I fully endorse your views about the seasons herein. Therefore, kindly provide me an answer for my question. Thanks.

In those famous words of Old

In those famous words of Old Hill - what difference does it make?

What difference

A winter does not end in the same year it starts, so the winter of 2014 would be followed by the spring of 2015. The winter of 2015 would not be followed by the spring of 2015.
It makes a difference in historical matters. If you say a certain relative died in the winter of ????, a listener could assume the date of death was a full year different from the truth.

"The winter of...'

Why do some people call this winter, that started in December of 2015, "the winter of 2016"?
Surely the winter of 2016 will start in December of 2016.
We don't call the Christmas celebrated in 2015 "the Christmas of 2016".

Equinox/solsticr

We seem to be talking apples and oranges. Comparing different things. Weather and seasons are similar to apples and orange comparisons. The ecliptic and the heavenly bodies decide seasons. Hot/cold dry/wet decide weather

good page

Fab page and web site!

Spring

That's a Springtime Miracle I can accept!

Winter

And in His image He made Man, who is the one responsible for writing, copying and editing The Book; and the errors passed along in new editions with men and women responsible for viewing the book through filters of misconception and ignorance, fear and hate. By the way, I heard the universe does not revolve around Rome - the NASA depiction... I guess I could see how the foolish could think it is correct. Matter of perspective. Happy Festive. Go be kind with someone with a different perspective. I am inclined to believe in Axial Tilt. I don't get seasons where I live, just the season of Summer and the brief - non-summer with non-summer being shorter every year.
Please copy and paste this message.

Evolution

The milestone of creation is the cornerstone of colophone of districts.

Bloody darkness'

No sun - I hate it!

Says the one whose name is

Says the one whose name is 'bloody *darkness*'.

seasons

please create a season calendar for adding to Google calendar

We were always taught Summer-

We were always taught
Summer- first week of June - first week Sept
Fall- fall second week Sept- second week Nov
Winter- third week Nov- fourth week Feb
Spring- first week March- first week June

Unfortunately your family

Unfortunately your family taught you their generational learnings rather than actual facts for what the seasons are.

When winter actually occurs.

Kdh1969 is more accurate in stating when the seasons actually occur "than your actual facts for what the seasons are". If you lived in the upper Midwest, you would know that from year in and year out experience. Rob in South Dakota

How come it doesn't list the

How come it doesn't list the Southern Hemisphere?

The Old Farmer's Almanac is

The Editors's picture

The Old Farmer's Almanac is North America's most popular annual publication. Our tools, tables, and content across astronomy and the Moon, calendar, weather forecasts, planting dates, etc., may be relevant to many (and we welcome all), however, the content is written for the U.S. and Canadian readers of our publication; the free companion Web site provides this information as a courtesy.

Solstices and Equinoxes are

Solstices and Equinoxes are the same date and time for the entire Earth.

You could try to call the June Solstice as the "Northmost Solstice" and the September Equinox as the "South-moving Equinox", to simply describe the Sun's apparent motion.

Solstice and Equinox

For the southern hemisphere these are the opposite of ours. As summer begins in the northern hemisphere winter begins in the southern hemisphere.

As 99% of continental part

As 99% of continental part lies in Northern Hemisphere we only consider Northern Hemisphere seasonal periods. I think it is the reason but I am don't know exactly

Um... 100% of the continent

Um... 100% of the continent is in the Northern Hemisphere.

Umm...your statement is %75

Umm...your statement is %75 false.

It's the exact opposite for

It's the exact opposite for Southern Hemisphere, when northern has spring equinox the southern is having their fall equinox & same for the solstices.

Is there a part on this site

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

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 6th =]

November 6th =]

6th of October 14'15"

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

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