Spring has Sprung!
Spring is celebrated all over the world. The first day of Spring is also known as the Vernal Equinox. An Equinox occurs each year at two specific moments in time. One occurs around March 20/21 and is known as the VERNAL or Spring EQUINOX which is where we are right now, and the other occurs around September 22/23 and is known as the AUTUMNAL or Fall EQUINOX.
An Equinox occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, and the Sun is vertically above a point on the Equator when the center of the Sun spends roughly an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on the Earth. The word EQUINOX is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), so we have the translation as EQUAL NIGHTS because around this moment in the calendar the night and day are approximately equally long.
In reality, the day is longer than the night at an Equinox, the day lasts about 14 minutes longer than the night at the Equator and longer still towards the Poles. Commonly, the day is defined as the period when sunlight reaches the ground in the absence of local obstacles. But since, from the Earth, the Sun appears as a disc rather than a single point of light, when the center of the Sun is below the horizon, its upper edge is visible.
For most locations on Earth, there are two distinct identifiable days per year when the length of day and night are closest to being equal; those days are commonly referred to as the “equiluxes” and different from the Equinoxes. Equiluxes occur during the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart.
Equinoxes refer to points in time, but equiluxes refer to days. The occurrences of Equinoxes are not fixed, but fall about six hours later every year, totaling one full day or 24 hours in four years. They are reset by the occurrence of a leap year. Isn’t that interesting?
It is said that on the day of an Equinox, the Sun rises everywhere on Earth (except the Poles) at 06:00 in the morning and sets at 18:00 in the evening (local time). These times are not exact however, because the Sun is much more massive than the Earth, so more than half of the Earth could be in sunlight at any one time.
In Astrology, the Vernal (Spring) Equinox is the time in March when the Sun reaches this balancing point in its path through the zodiac. It marks the beginning of the new astrological year, as the Sun enters the first degree of Aries, the Ram. Aries is ruled by Mars. The ancient Roman festivals of the Equinox revolved around the planet Mars (hence the name of the month “March”). Aries is the sign of the exaltation of the Sun, for it marks the time when the days of light begin to surpass or outnumber the nights of darkness.
The Jewish Passover always falls on the full moon following the first New Moon after the Northern Hemisphere Vernal Equinox.
The Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon on or after the March Equinox. The earliest possible Easter date in any year is therefore March 22 on each calendar.
An Equinox is more than just a moment in time…it can cause the temporary disruption of communications satellites. There are a few days near the equinox when the sun goes directly behind the satellites that are hovering near to Earth, for a short period each day. The Sun’s immense power and broad radiation spectrum overload the satellites ‘reception circuits with noise and, depending on antenna size and other factors, can temporarily disrupt or degrade the circuit. The duration of those effects varies but can range from a few minutes to an hour. Here in the states we have been experiencing power failures, appliances that burn out, even my microwave just died yesterday. The Sun is very powerful yes?
A modern folk-tale claims that on an Equinox day, you can balance an egg on its point. However, I was amazed to discover that all of us can balance an egg on its point any day of the year…if we have enough patience. Happy Spring to you!
Spring has Sprung!