When Do the Seasons Start in 2019-2020?

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

March 11, 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!

Reader Comments

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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.

In Australia, you are right,

In Australia, you are right, it is a common to say that the seasons start on the first of the equinox month. But that is because it is spoken by purveyors of ignorance. Anyone sweating through a 30C+ day well into March would hardly say we are having Autumn weather. The 'seasons' are far more closely aligned to the equinii, all around the planet, including Australia. Shameful that many students in school here have no idea what makes a season, other than a date rolling over to the first of the month. Thankfully the idea of seasons is slowly changing here, to be more in line with how the rest of the planet undertand them to be.

All so interesting,do people

All so interesting,do people around the Globe see more humidity and rain along with more Sun,i found 2013 the best for weather for many a year.

This discussion is very

This discussion is very informative and very civilized. I commend everyone who participated. I didn't read all of the comments, but unlike most discussions on the web, I didn't see any vulgar language, cutting remarks, or any other off-color comments. This was educational and pleasant to read.

Some research done in

Some research done in Australia (I do not have a reference) suggests that there are only two seasons for the northern states, Wet and Dry, and six seasons in the southern states. This division was based on weather, flora behaviour and fauna behaviour.

I live in the southern US

I live in the southern US state of Texas. I knowof only 4 seasons here in Texas. HOT, cold,
Wet & Dry. And I'm a bible believer. LOL!

That is pretty much similar

That is pretty much similar with that of Nigeria.

I agree! :) living here on

I agree! :) living here on the southern Oregon coast for the last three years, after spending my whole life in the midwest, I can safely say that there ARE in fact two seasons here. Wet and Dry. Summers here are generally average of 60-75 with only fog to water the trees and plants, and in the winter around 55-65 with rain rain rain ;) Not sure if this is true or not but this part of the country is the last rain forest in the United States.

In Australia. New Zealand n

In Australia. New Zealand n Sth Africa we start winter on 1st day of June. This ERROR happend bcos we were started by the English who thought summer started sooner bcos it was hotter than ther homeland. They didnt factor in these places are closer to th equator. So they started seasons, falsley, earlier. Brisbane Sydney Caberra Melbourne Hobart Adelaide Perth all have warmer temperature averages in 1st 3weeks of March than 1st 3weeks of December. The same in reverse when talkin of winter.

Completely wrong! You must be

Completely wrong! You must be referring to the meteological accounting seasons which generally start on 1st. The English seasons start 21st, 22nd just like elsewhere.

um.. but like, these are the

um.. but like, these are the equinoxes and solstices, they aren't saying that it is the start of the seasons all over the world.... so... i'm confused, somebody help...

John is right - you are

John is right - you are incorrect and, from the tone of your email, not a lover of the Brits.

Who ever said that in the

Who ever said that in the southern hemishpere Winter would officially start on the first of June rather than on the 21st in line with our winter solstice. If I was a farmer I would still be planting according to the cycles of the moon anyway.

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