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Welcome Spring With The Vernal Equinox

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Welcome Spring With The Vernal Equinox

On Sunday, March 20, 2016,  at 12:30 a.m. EDT, we welcome the official arrival of spring and the Vernal Equinox. This is the moment in the Northern Hemisphere when the Sun crosses the equator and the days and nights are equal in hours.  Vernal translates to “new” and “fresh,” and equinox derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Regardless of what the weather is doing outside, this day is the official start of the spring season.

So what does that mean? Essentially, our hours of daylight — the period of time each day between sunrise and sunset — have been growing slightly longer each day since the Winter Solstice in December, which is the shortest day of the year (at least in terms of light). Even after three months of lengthening days, though, we still see less light than darkness over the course of a day. The Vernal Equinox marks the turning point, when daylight begins to win out over darkness.

2016-vernal-equinox

On that day, the direct rays of the Sun are shining down on the equator producing the effect of equal day and night (give or take a few minutes).  After the Vernal Equinox, the direct rays of the Sun migrate north of the Equator (with hours of daylight steadily growing longer) until they finally arrive at the Tropic of the Cancer (latitude 23.5 degrees north) on June 20th at 6:34 p. m. EDT.  The migration of the Sun’s direct rays comes to a halt on that day; this is as far north as they will go.  We call this the Summer Solstice (solstice is a suspension of the migration of the Sun’s direct rays). It is the longest day of the year in terms of hours of daylight.

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After the Summer Solstice, the direct rays proceed to head south and the days begin to grow shorter. It will take another three months, until the Autumnal Equinox (September 22, 2016, at 10:21 a.m. EDT), for the periods of daylight and darkness to reach an equilibrium once again. The rays ultimately reach the Tropic of Capricorn (latitude 23.5 degrees south) on the day of the Winter Solstice (December 21, 2016, at 5:44 a.m. EST), and the whole cycle begins again!

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4 comments

1 Juanita Jones { 03.20.15 at 10:57 am }

I can verify that YES an egg will stand on the first day of Spring – and will do it best close to the actual time of Spring’s arrival – this year – 2015 at 6:45 p.m. I have done this every single year since I learned about it (so I would say a good 40 years – I am currently 58 y/o) and take pictures of it every year also (be sure to position the egg with the fatter end on the bottom of course). I have also stood a broom – with pictures to prove it – on the first day of Spring – even an angled one – stand it on its bristles. You have to be patient and work with either one – balancing the egg between both forefingers and thumb but you can feel it take hold when it stands – it’s awesome! The broom also – just lightly balance the broom handle between your hands – barely touching it and it will stand alone. You MUST try this – I get sooo excited every year to do this and tell everybody I know to try it. 🙂 I have had them stand until I actually knock them over myself or someone walks by and causes a jar to all surroundings. I stand the eggs on my countertops and the broom anywhere in the house. Don’t miss out on this fun opportunity!

2 Rosa L. { 03.20.15 at 9:00 am }

I wasn’t sure about the old tale of an egg balancing till I actually tried it last year 2014!!!! I heard the time of Spring’s arrival and was prepared. With an egg on the table at the time of Spring, it stood for a minute or two on it’s own! Of course the egg promptly laid down once that had passed. I did get pictures also.

3 Susan Higgins { 03.20.15 at 10:45 am }

We’ve been told this is merely an “urban legend” or myth.

4 kenneth krimple { 03.18.15 at 10:05 pm }

Ive always been told that you can balance an egg at the time of the spring equinox .Has anybody tried this and is there any scientific evidence that backs this old story up?

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