The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on
when the subsolar point appears to leave the southern
hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen
from Earth. In the
is known as
the vernal equinox, and in the
as the autumnal
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
drifting more than one day from 20 March each year.
may be taken to mark the beginning of spring and the
end of winter in the
but marks the beginning of
autumn and the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
In astronomy, the
is the zero point of sidereal time
and, consequently, right ascension. It also serves as a reference
for calendars and celebrations in many human cultures and religions.
2 Apparent movement of the Sun
3.1.1 Julian calendar
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
3.2.7 The Americas
3.2.8 Modern culture
4 See also
6 External links
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
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
September equinox § culture
UT date and time of
equinoxes and solstices on Earth
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
with parades through the
Ishtar Gate to the
Eanna temple, and the
ritual re-enactment of the marriage to Tammuz, or Sumerian Dummuzi.
Persian calendar begins each year at the northward equinox,
observationally determined at Tehran.
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.
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)  In 2547 it will be
20 March, 21:18 (Gregorian) and 3 March, 21:18 (Julian).
Bas-relief 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
Chichen Itza pyramid during the spring equinox—Kukulkan, the famous
descent of the snake
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.
The northward equinox marks the first day of various calendars
including the Iranian calendar. The ancient Iranian new year's
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 and
the Nizari Ismaili Muslims. 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.
In many Arab countries,
Mother's Day is celebrated on the northward
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
South and Southeast Asia
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.
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 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.
Higan (お彼岸) is a Buddhist
holiday exclusively celebrated by Japanese sects during both the
Spring and Autumnal Equinox.
in Norse paganism, a
Dísablót was celebrated on the vernal
Spring equinox in Teotihuacán
Cahokia Woodhenge, a large timber circle located at
Cahokia archaeological site near
Collinsville, Illinois, 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.
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
World Citizen Day occurs on the northward equinox.
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.
Neopagans observe the
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 was commemorated
by an animated Google Doodle.
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Dates and times of the North