When Do the Seasons Start in 2019-2020?

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

June 19, 2019
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter 360

When do the seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall—start? Here are your equinox and solstice dates for 2019 and 2020—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 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
Seasons of 2020 Astronomical Start Meteorological Start
SPRING Thursday, March 19, 11:50 P.M. EDT Sunday, March 1
SUMMER Saturday, June 20, 5:44 P.M. EDT Monday, June 1
FALL Tuesday, September 22, 9:31 A.M. EDT Tuesday, September 1
WINTER Monday, December 21, 5:02 A.M. EST Tuesday, 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.

As the Earth progresses through its orbit, the tilt causes different parts of the Earth to be exposed to more or less sunlight, depending on whether we are tilted towards or away from the Sun.

Equinox solstice cycle
Photo Credit: NASA

Why Are The Seasons Different Lengths?

It can sometimes feel like winter is dragging on forever, but did you know that its actually the shortest season of the year? (In the Northern Hemisphere, that is.)

Thanks to the elliptical shape of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, Earth doesn’t stay the same distance from the Sun year-round. In January, we reach the point in our orbit nearest to the Sun (called perihelion), and in July, we reach the farthest point (aphelion). Read more about perihelion and aphelion.

When Earth is closer to the Sun, the star’s gravitational pull is slightly stronger, causing our planet to travel just a bit faster in its orbit. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this results in a shorter fall and winter, since we are moving faster through space during that time of the year. Conversely, when Earth is farthest from the Sun, it travels more slowly, resulting in a longer spring and summer. (The opposite is true in the Southern Hemisphere.)

In other words, it takes Earth less time to go from the autumnal equinox to the vernal equinox than it does to go from the vernal equinox to the autumnal equinox.

Due to all this, the seasons range in length from about 89 days to about 94 days. 

The Seasons

What defines each season? Learn more about the equinoxes and solstices on our individual season pages below.

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!

2020 Almanac Calendar Club

Reader Comments

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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)

Sorry, that was 6th of

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

November 2

November 2

I belive the mid way between

I belive the mid way between the end of summer and the begining of winter is around Nov 6. This is a quick calculation. Time of day? Not sure. Hope this helps a little.

when is dogwood winter when

when is dogwood winter
when is blackberry winter

"Blackberry Winter" is a cold

"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

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

Spring came and the temps are

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

AMEN

oh happy happy, joy joy! ;-)

oh happy happy,
joy joy! ;-)

Why would the seasons start

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!

Our seasons are marked by

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.

I agree with you 100%. The

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.

and the seasons are called

and the seasons are called Equinoxes and Solstices

When you talk about seasons,

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.

Where did you get 365._ _ _ _

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

You want your winter season

You want your winter season to start Nov.06?
If you're balls deep into winter by Dec.21,
I bet you're still neck deep in winter on Feb.05!
March 21 weather is about like Dec.21 weather, depending on how much surface water is around (lake effect ...), so the astronomy festivals are appropriate markers for the seasons' start.
Unless (like olde England) you want mid-Summer to be the "fastest-rising Temperature" etc.

Northern

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.

lol maybe that's for

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.

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

The US Weather service uses

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.

Actually, it takes from

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)

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