Coming soon to a horizon near you. The vernal equinox. Don’t miss it.
Yes, it’s almost here, and eagerly awaited. The spring equinox—the official first moment of spring. This year it falls on March 20 at 6:29 am EST.
Why is this? Why does spring arrive at 6:29, and not at 6:30, or even a more reasonable time so we could all enjoy it after a cup of coffee–like maybe nine-thirty or ten? But the equinox waits for no one. It’s the precise moment at which the sun is directly overhead at noon on the equator. If you happen to be standing on the equator on March 20th, be sure and check it out. If, like most of us, you dwell in less tropical climes, the equinox will arrive on a chilly March morning. But arrive it will.
The interesting thing about the equinox is that the sun, on this one day, rises due east and sets due west, no matter where you happen to be. So if you make a point of watching the sunrise (or more realistically for most of us, the sunset) you can note where the sun sets and what landmarks are to the east and west of your house. As the year turns around, the sun will rise and set more to the north or to the south, but on the magic equinox day, you can get your bearings.
Seems like that’s what we all need these days–a chance to get our bearings. To figure out what’s going on and where we stand, as hate and evil and tragic events go whirling past us with the speed of crazed comets. The equinox is all about balance.
It’s the moment at which day and night are of equal length. And then, comes the time we’ve all been anticipating: finally the days start being longer than the nights. Now there’s daylight after dinner, time to linger on the porch, time to poke at the half-frozen, muddy soil in the garden and indulge in summer hopes. It’s been a long winter.
But on March 20, it will finally be spring! Unless, of course, you happen to live south of the Equator. Then it won’t be the vernal equinox at all. It will be the autumnal equinox, and the start of fall. So strange for us Northerners to think of September and October as spring, and January as the height of summer. Like everything, it all depends on your point of view.