When Do the Seasons Start in 2019-2020?

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

September 16, 2019
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter 360

When do the four seasons—autumn, winter, spring, and summer—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? Below is a brief explanation of the four seasons in order of calendar year. For more information, link to the referenced equinoxes and solstices pages.

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

Autumn (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

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)

Are you forgetting summer?

Are you forgetting summer?

Summer ISN'T EVEN COMING!!!!

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

We dont need summer here in

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

Summer arrived in South GA in

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. :-(

Yes, I meant: 21 Nov to 21

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)

This is so weird--it's

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!

The English always talk about

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

Hey leave us english out of

Hey leave us english out of it. We don't have seasons we just have weather somes wet somes dry

Just because the BBC weather

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?

But if summer starts June

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

Always has been in my

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

Different sides of the world

Different sides of the world

You're right. What difference

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.

I could have sworn the

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

The Autumnal Equinox is at

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

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

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?

Just swap the dates for the

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.

@ M. Hermit [Dates of

@ M. Hermit
[Dates of Southern Hemisphere (Austral) seasons (According To):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... ]

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

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.

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