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Vernal equinox 2012 arrives: Spring has sprung

On the left are the winter and summer solstices, seen from space by a NASA satellite; on the right are the equinoxes. Click on the photo to visit the NASA Earth Observatory website with a great explanation.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Given the unusual early heat wave that’s gripped most of the country, perhaps it’s fitting that the spring equinox makes it’s earliest arrival in more than 100 years — since 1896, to be exact.

In the mountain time zone, the moment of equinox is actually late Monday night, which means it will officially be spring by the time you wake up.

It’s also a day you can check your iPhone GPS and compass against the sky because the sun rises due east and sets due west.

The equinox marks the moment when the sun is directly above the Earth’s equator. Days and nights are about equal in length in both the northern and southern hemispheres — but not exactly the same, as some people believe.

The exact time and date of the equinox changes for very simple reasons. The division of the year into 365 days doesn’t exactly match up with celestial rhythms. The Earth’s orbit around the sun isn’t exactly circular. This archaeoastronomy website has detailed info on the timing of equinoxes and solstices.

But the simplest reason for this year’s early arrival is that it’s a leap year. If it weren’t for the extra day in February, the equinox would be arriving March 21. If you’re still confused, check this link at the U.S. Naval Observatory website — it may help clear thing up, or leave you more confused.

So the seasons aren’t exactly equal lengths. Here’s how they shake out, according to Space.com:

Winter: 88.994 days
Spring: 92.758 days
Summer: 93.651 days
Autumn: 89.842

 

 

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10 Responses

  1. Winter: 88.994 days
    Spring: 92.758 days
    Summer: 93.651 days
    Autumn: 89.842
    so unfair to those of us who might prefer a different ratio. :-)

    • I speak to Earth often, sometimes with quips about my personal preferences. I’m not crazy, just someone with the greatest luxury: time to play with, literally. And humor and talking out loud to the planet and the natural world it contains, as well as celestial connections to our galaxy and the universe; are just my way of giving thanks for the perspective ON time and space, that ensures my awareness and remembrance of the importance of TIME as the greatest of earthly treasures, to be prioritized first by who or what we love, rather than what life may seem to require of us in monetary terms, to buy us free time first, rather than things for them and us. Would you or anyone care to share with me your own ideas here? I talk to people a lot, too (LMAO & other less desirably shaped parts) ! Ryn

  2. Thanks for posting spring’s early arrival. So, even though the sun rises due east and sets due west on the 19th, the date when the day and night were equal (equinox) was actually on the 17th for Frisco. I wonder why they don’t coincide.

  3. If one lived on the equator, I suppose it wouldn’t make much of a difference, would it?

  4. If winter is really the shortest season, why does it feel like it lasts forever? Even in places other than Summit County, where it does last forever…

  5. Dumb summer, why does it need to be the longest?! whyyy?! lol :)

  6. Unless you live south of the Tropic of Cancer (and North of the Tropic of Capricorn), the sun will never rise due East and set due West.

  7. That is a great image of how the tilt of the Earth’s axis causes the different length of the days and seasons. Thank you for locating and posting it!

  8. im excited! spring, time of renewal bye bye winter blues new beginings i love sunshine i love the universe its going to be a great time though its sad when some things end but they do thats the way of life. we can enjoy the memories so sad but heres to a new time. Here, Here

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