The Info List - March Equinox

The March equinox[1][2] or Northward equinox[3][4] is the equinox on the Earth
when the subsolar point appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth. In the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
the March equinox
March equinox
is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
as the autumnal equinox.[2][1][5] On the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
the Northward equinox can occur as early as 19 March or as late as 21 March. For a common year the computed time slippage is about 5 hours 49 minutes later than the previous year, and for a leap year about 18 hours 11 minutes earlier than the previous year. Balancing the increases of the common years against the losses of the leap years keeps the calendar date of the March equinox
March equinox
from drifting more than one day from 20 March each year. The March equinox
March equinox
may be taken to mark the beginning of spring and the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
but marks the beginning of autumn and the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.[6] In astronomy, the March equinox
March equinox
is the zero point of sidereal time and, consequently, right ascension.[7] It also serves as a reference for calendars and celebrations in many human cultures and religions.


1 Constellation 2 Apparent movement of the Sun 3 Culture

3.1 Calendars

3.1.1 Julian calendar

3.2 Commemorations

3.2.1 Abrahamic tradition 3.2.2 West Asia 3.2.3 North Africa 3.2.4 South and Southeast Asia 3.2.5 East Asia 3.2.6 Europe 3.2.7 The Americas 3.2.8 Modern culture

4 See also 5 References 6 External links

Constellation[edit] The point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator northwards is called the First Point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius. The Earth's axis causes the First Point of Aries
First Point of Aries
to travel westwards across the sky at a rate of roughly one degree every 72 years. Based on the modern constellation boundaries, the northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865 (1866 BC), passed into Pisces in the year −67 (68 BC), will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus
in the year 4312. It passed by (but not into) a 'corner' of Cetus
at 0°10′ distance in the year 1489. Apparent movement of the Sun[edit] See also: Equinox
§ Length of equinoctial day and night In its apparent motion on the day of an equinox, the Sun's disk crosses the Earth's horizon directly to the east at dawn—rising; and again, some 12 hours later, directly to the west at dusk—setting. The March equinox, like all equinoxes, is characterized by having an almost exactly equal amount of daylight and night across most latitudes on Earth. Due to refraction of light rays in the Earth's atmosphere the Sun will be visible above the horizon even when its disc is completely below the limb of the Earth. Additionally, when seen from the Earth, the Sun is a bright disc in the sky and not just a point of light, thus sunrise and sunset can be said to start several minutes before the sun's geometric center even crosses the horizon, and extends equally long after. These conditions produce differentials of actual durations of light and darkness at various locations on Earth
during an equinox. This is most notable at the more extreme latitudes, where the Sun may be seen to travel sideways considerably during the dawn and evening, drawing out the transition from day to night. At the north and south poles, the Sun appears to move steadily around the horizon, and just above the horizon, neither rising nor setting apart from a slight change in declination of about 0.39° per day as the equinox passes.[8] Culture[edit] See also: September equinox
September equinox
§ culture

UT date and time of equinoxes and solstices on Earth[9]

event equinox solstice equinox solstice

month March June September December


day time day time day time day time

2010 20 17:32 21 11:28 23 03:09 21 23:38

2011 20 23:21 21 17:16 23 09:04 22 05:30

2012 20 05:14 20 23:09 22 14:49 21 11:12

2013 20 11:02 21 05:04 22 20:44 21 17:11

2014 20 16:57 21 10:51 23 02:29 21 23:03

2015 20 22:45 21 16:38 23 08:21 22 04:48

2016 20 04:30 20 22:34 22 14:21 21 10:44

2017 20 10:28 21 04:24 22 20:02 21 16:28

2018 20 16:15 21 10:07 23 01:54 21 22:23

2019 20 21:58 21 15:54 23 07:50 22 04:19

2020 20 03:50 20 21:44 22 13:31 21 10:02

Calendars[edit] The Babylonian calendar began with the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the day after the Sumerian goddess Inanna's return from the underworld (later known as Ishtar), in the Akitu ceremony, with parades through the Ishtar
Gate to the Eanna
temple, and the ritual re-enactment of the marriage to Tammuz, or Sumerian Dummuzi. The Persian calendar begins each year at the northward equinox, observationally determined at Tehran.[10] The Indian national calendar
Indian national calendar
starts the year on the day next to the vernal equinox on 22 March (21 March in leap years) with a 30-day month (31 days in leap years), then has 5 months of 31 days followed by 6 months of 30 days.[10] Julian calendar[edit] The Julian calendar
Julian calendar
reform lengthened seven months and replaced the intercalary month with an intercalary day to be added every four years to February. It was based on a length for the year of 365 days and 6 hours (365.25 d), while the mean tropical year is about 11 minutes and 15 seconds less than that. This had the effect of adding about three quarters of an hour every four years. The effect accumulated from inception in 45 BC until the 16th century, when the northern vernal equinox fell on 10 or 11 March. The date in 1452 was 11 March, 11:52 (Julian) [11] In 2547 it will be 20 March, 21:18 (Gregorian) and 3 March, 21:18 (Julian).[12] Commemorations[edit]

in Persepolis—a symbol Iranian/Persian Nowruz—on the day of an equinox, the power of an eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and that of a lion (personifying the Sun) are equal.

Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
pyramid during the spring equinox—Kukulkan, the famous descent of the snake

Abrahamic tradition[edit]

The Jewish Passover
usually falls on the first full moon after the northern hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (currently three times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon. The Christian Churches calculate Easter
as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The official church definition for the equinox is 21 March. The Eastern Orthodox Churches use the older Julian calendar, while the western churches use the Gregorian calendar, and the western full moons currently fall four, five or 34 days before the eastern ones. The result is that the two Easters generally fall on different days but they sometimes coincide. The earliest possible Easter
date in any year is 22 March on each calendar. The latest possible Easter
date in any year is 25 April.[13]

West Asia[edit]

The northward equinox marks the first day of various calendars including the Iranian calendar. The ancient Iranian new year's festival of Nowruz
can be celebrated 20 March or 21 March. According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people. It is also a holiday celebrated in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Zanzibar, Albania, and various countries of Central Asia, as well as among the Kurds. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday, it is also a holy day for adherents of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
and the Nizari Ismaili Muslims.[14] The Bahá'í Naw-rúz is calculated using astronomical tables—the new year always starts at the sunset preceding the vernal equinox calculated for Tehran.[15] In many Arab countries, Mother's Day
Mother's Day
is celebrated on the northward equinox.

North Africa[edit]

Sham el-Nessim was an ancient Egyptian holiday which can be traced back as far as 2700 BC. It is still one of the public holidays in Egypt. Sometime during Egypt's Christian period (c. 200–639) the date moved to Easter
Monday, but before then it coincided with the vernal equinox.

South and Southeast Asia[edit] Main article: South and Southeast Asian New Year According to the sidereal solar calendar, celebrations which originally coincided with the vernal equinox now take place throughout South Asia and parts of Southeast Asia on the day when the Sun enters the sidereal Aries, generally around 14 April. East Asia[edit]

The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms (节气, literally "climatic segments"), and the vernal equinox (Chūnfēn, Chinese and Japanese: 春分; Korean: 춘분; Vietnamese: Xuân phân) marks the middle of the spring. In this context, the Chinese character
Chinese character
分 means "(equal) division" (within a season). In Japan, Vernal Equinox
Day (春分の日 Shunbun no hi) is an official national holiday, and is spent visiting family graves and holding family reunions.[16][17] Higan
(お彼岸) is a Buddhist holiday exclusively celebrated by Japanese sects during both the Spring and Autumnal Equinox.[16]


Lieldienas in Norse paganism, a Dísablót
was celebrated on the vernal equinox.[18]

The Americas[edit]

Spring equinox in Teotihuacán The reconstructed Cahokia
Woodhenge, a large timber circle located at the Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
archaeological site near Collinsville, Illinois,[19] is the site of annual equinox and solstice sunrise observances. Out of respect for Native American beliefs these events do not feature ceremonies or rituals of any kind.[20][21][22]

Modern culture[edit]

World Storytelling Day
World Storytelling Day
is a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling, celebrated every year on the day of the northward equinox World Citizen
World Citizen
Day occurs on the northward equinox.[23] In Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis, Maryland
in the United States, boatyard employees and sailboat owners celebrate the spring equinox with the Burning of the Socks festival. Traditionally, the boating community wears socks only during the winter. These are burned at the approach of warmer weather, which brings more customers and work to the area. Officially, nobody then wears socks until the next equinox.[24][25] Neopagans observe the March equinox
March equinox
as a cardinal point on the Wheel of the Year. In the northern hemisphere some varieties of paganism adapt vernal equinox celebrations, while in the southern hemisphere pagans adapt autumnal traditions. International Astrology Day On 20 March 2014 and 20 March 2018, the March equinox
March equinox
was commemorated by an animated Google Doodle.[26]

See also[edit]

September equinox


^ a b Raymond Serway; John Jewett (8 January 2013). Physics for Scientists and Engineers. Cengage Learning. p. 409. ISBN 978-1-285-53187-8.  ^ a b United States. Naval Training Command (1972). Navigation compendium. U.S. Govt. Print. Off. p. 88.  ^ Bromberg, Irv (18 May 2012). "Churches take March 21st as the Ecclesiastical Vernal Equinox
in calculating the date of Easter. This page takes an astronomical look at the equinox and March 21st". University of Toronto.  ^ Teaching Science. Australian Science Teachers Association. 2008.  ^ Dana Desonie (2008). Polar Regions: Human Impacts. Infobase Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-4381-0569-7.  ^ "Defining Seasons". www.timeanddate.com.  ^ M. Zeilik and S. A. Gregory (1998). Introductory Astronomy
& Astrophysics (fourth ed.). Saunders College Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 0030062284.  ^ Bromberg, Irv. "Solar Year Length Variations" (PDF). University of Toronto, Canada.  ^ United States Naval Observatory (21 September 2015). "Earth's Seasons: Equinoxes, Solstices, Perihelion, and Aphelion, 2000–2025". Retrieved 9 December 2015.  ^ a b Bromberg, Irv. "The Lengths of the Seasons". University of Toronto, Canada. Retrieved 6 July 2013.  ^ Smith, Ivan (10 May 2002). "Vernal Equinox, 1452–1811". Ns1763.ca. Retrieved 6 July 2013.  ^ Smith, Ivan (10 May 2002). "Vernal Equinox, 2188–2547". Ns1763.ca. Retrieved 6 July 2013.  ^ Cooley, Keith (2001). "Keith's Moon Facts". Hiwaay.net personal pages. [self-published source] ^ "Navroz". The Ismaili. Islamic Publications Limited. Retrieved 4 July 2011.  ^ "With Spring comes the Baha'i New Year". National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.  ^ a b Milton Walter Meyer (1993). Japan: A Concise History. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-8226-3018-0.  ^ Yoneyuki Sugita (18 August 2016). Social Commentary on State and Society in Modern Japan. Springer. p. 23. ISBN 978-981-10-2395-8.  ^ "Disablót". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish).  ^ "Visitors Guide to the Woodhenge". Retrieved 19 December 2017.  ^ Iseminger, William. "Welcome the Fall Equinox
at Cahokia
Mounds". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 20 December 2017.  ^ " Winter
Sunrise Observance at Cahokia
Mounds". Collinsville Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 20 December 2017.  ^ " Cahokia
Mounds Mark Spring Equinox : The keepers of Cahokia Mounds will host a spring gathering to celebrate the vernal equinox". Indian Country Today. Indian Country Media Network. Retrieved 20 December 2017.  ^ "World Citizens Day—World Unity Day". Consultative Assembly of the Peoples Congress. 2007.  ^ "Annapolis Welcomes Spring by Burning Socks". First Coast News. [not in citation given] ^ Rey, Diane. "Hillsmere Joins in Sock Burning Tradition". The Capital. Annapolis, Maryland. Retrieved 25 April 2011.  ^ Gander, Kashmira (20 March 2014). "Spring equinox 2014: First day of spring marked by Google Doodle". The Independent. London. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

"Ancient Equinox
Alignment". Loughcrew, Ireland.  Dates and times of the North