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
SUMMER SOLSTICE June 21, 6:07 A.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
SUMMER SOLSTICE June 21, 11:54 A.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

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 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 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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Thanks for the information we

Thanks for the information we studied most of this in geography years ago ..but its a good reminder and people should know that it varies in different parts of the world on their standard time. Although it shows spring in many parts the snow is still there but U may see tiny shoots coming up sooner or later.

Dear OFA...How do I love

Dear OFA...How do I love thee? In many countless ways! Keep on keeping on!

Aww. Shucks. We appreciate

Aww. Shucks. We appreciate the kind words. Your obedient servant, The Old Farmer's Almanac

Great Website. 09/17/2012,

Great Website.

09/17/2012, Monday

I initially visited this website in order to determine the exact date and time of The Autumnal Equinox, and The Winter Solstice for 2012, which [according to the valuable information available here] is 09/22/2012, Saturday and 12/21/2012, Friday. While I was here I read some other very interesting information also. This is great website with wonderful resources. Thank you. Dr. Stone / Tampa, Florida, United States.

Is this winter nit the end of

Is this winter nit the end of the Mayan Calender as we understand it. I was told it is the precise moment that all the planets will allign in a strait line for the first time in many centuries. the dawn of a new era as it seems. will be interesting to see if it is really just another y2k

Hi, Big Bill, It's a myth.

Hi, Big Bill, It's a myth. See more in our free Almanac Companion enewsletter here: http://us1.campaign-archive2.c...

Here is an excellent article

Here is an excellent article showing some Christian and Jewish traditions that revolve around the summer solstice. http://www.examiner.com/articl...

I have been waiting for

I have been waiting for 2012-12-21 for 40 years. I didn't even know if I would still be here. Now just 180 days.......... I don't think anything will happen, but I will be up before the Chicken. Just in case. LOL

There are several

There are several interpretations as to when each season begins.
In North America, calendars commonly use the astronomical definition. It is true that various countries, cultures, religions, organizations, and individuals may use definitions other than the astronomical. Because we are an almanac that provides astronomical data, however, that’s why we use the astronomical definition. For our weather predictions, however, we start with a more meteorological definition by providing Nov-March “winter” predictions, Apr-May for spring, June-Aug for summer and Sept/Oct for fall. Hope this is helpful. --Your OFA editors

I am afraid that I must agree

I am afraid that I must agree with Jonathan. It is not simply "various countries, cultures, religions. . ." that define seasons in a variety of ways, but more so different latitudes. The so-called "astronomical" dates might seem to be more objective and authoritative, but in defining seasons as phenomena that occur uniformly across an entire hemisphere, we ignore the curvature of the earth and the tremendous variation in climate that occurs between the equator and the poles. The astronomical dates might make sense for someone living on the moon and seeing the earth as a flat disc, but for those of us living on the surface of the earth, seasons start and end at a variety of times. I think that the OFA should resist the popular compulsion to have "official" dates for the seasons and instead accept the more scientifically and historically accurate definition of seasons as annual changes in levels of sunlight, temperature, and precipitation that vary according to latitude and climate.

I am sorry but your

I am sorry but your contention that the first day of spring is the equinox, the first day of summer the solstice, etc., simply is not true. The so called beginning of summer (the summer solstice around June 21st) and the end (the equinox around Sept 21 or 22) is merely the astronomical beginning and end of summer, nothing more nothing less. The meteorological beginning and end of summer is June 1st and August 31st respectively. I, and I think most people, tend to consider the meteorological time to be more accurate. Contrary to popular belief there is no official beginning and end of the seasons. No scientific or governmental body has ever formally bestowed such a designation. Again, June 21 or 22 to Sept. 21 or 22 (or Sep. 21 to Dec. 21 for Fall, etc.) are merely the astronomical beginning and end of summer it is not the "official" beginning or ending. For more information go here:

Is it true that you can

Is it true that you can balance an egg during the spring equinox ??

Yes, it is true and I did it.

Yes, it is true and I did it. I am trying to post one of the photos I took but haven't had any luck yet. If anyone knows how to post a JPEG here please adda acomment with the methodology.

Thank you for this great

Thank you for this great info! Spring is my fav season. Even wrote a paper on Spring when I had to take English Comp (tested out of it 40 years ago as a college freshman) in the late 90s as a prereq to getting my RN degree. Love "The Farmer's Almanac," and grew up with it always on the shelf next to the phone back in the day. Thanks bunches!

On Mar 17th the sunrise and

On Mar 17th the sunrise and sunset will be exactly 12 hours apart..so how do they come up with the 20th?

Great question. You are

Great question. You are correct. The "equal" night/day usually comes a few days before the equinox. Our former astronomer, George Greenstein, had this to say: "There are two reasons. First, light rays from the Sun are bent by the Earth's atmosphere. (This is why the Sun appears squashed when it sets.) They are bent in such a way that we are actually able to see the Sun before it rises and after it sets. The second reason is that daytime begins the moment any part of the Sun is over the horizon, and it is not over until the last part of the Sun has set. If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’”

I have a fairly simple

I have a fairly simple question.
Does the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere occur at the same time as the summer solstice in the Southern hemisphere?
If there is a lag in the exact time, is that lag due to the "wobble" of the Earth on it's axis?
Enquiring minds wander...

yug...

A good question. Perhaps some

A good question. Perhaps some Australians can help

It would appear that the

It would appear that the Solstice occurs this year on both the 21st and the 22nd -- depending on your time zone -- am I wrong?

Hi All,   It is my

Hi All,
 
It is my understanding that the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere occur at the same point in time. However, local time, due to time zones, will vary. At the December solstice, Earth reaches a spot in its orbit such that its northern axis points the farthest away from the Sun (Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees away from an upright position). The timing of this event is not dependent on where you are on Earth (such as a sunrise would be). However, the local time will change. Astronomers often list these events in Universal Time (UT), which is tied in to the time at Greenwich, England (0 degree longitude). From there, we need to convert to our local time.
 
Sometimes, the seasons occur near midnight. Therefore, as the event gets translated into local time, it may occur on one of two days (late evening of one day or early morning of the next day). This situation is happening for the December solstice in 2011. In Universal Time, the December solstice occurs on December 22 at the 5th hour 30th minute. In Eastern Standard Time, this is 12:30 am on December 22. However, in Central Time, this is December 21 at 11:30 pm; Mountain Standard is December 21 at 10:30 pm; Pacific Standard is December 21 at 9:30 pm, etc.
 
Hope this helps!
 
Heidi Stonehill
The Old Farmer's Almanac

After reading this I, of

After reading this I, of course understand the time zones, but it seems the season change may be at the same time all over the US? or does it come one hour after the previous time zone? In example Spring at 0700 EDT is also at 0700 CST?

Thanks Heidi!

Thanks Heidi!

Thanks Heidi your explanation

Thanks Heidi your explanation is informative.

Yes, both solstices occur at

Yes, both solstices occur at the same time. The northern axis points towards the Earth, creating more exposure, summer. On the directly oppisite side of the world, the southern hemisphere is in winter, because the southern axis is pointed away from the sun, becoming less exposed to sunlight. Both are solstises because the sun is either facing the Northern or Southern hemisphere, not the equator, which results in equinox. :)

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2011.

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2011. After Spring, Fall is my fave time of year. Love the smell of the fresh air as the temps change.

Love the Almanac ,too. From the time I was about 13 my Mom always made sure Santa put a copy of the Almanac in my Xmas stocking. Always something interesting to learn. Since my parents have moved on to the 'next realm' I make sure to get myself an Almanac for Xmas every year. It gets picked up by everyone that stops by over the holidays.

I always look at the almanac

I always look at the almanac to help me figure out when I'm going to plant my vegetable garden each year. It is something that my grandmother taught me to do to get the most out of the gardening season. I've even planted my vegetables in pots before the season starts so that I can transplant them outside and get a head start.

The Almanac sits near our

The Almanac sits near our couch and is viewed often and by many... Thanks So Much

I love the Almanac, too. It

I love the Almanac, too. It is full of interesting and very important information. Thanks, Kimberley

There is so much to learn

There is so much to learn from studying the past. Washington is no match for Mother Nature.

I love the Almanac

I love the Almanac

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