Spring Has (Almost) Sprung! The Vernal Equinox Is Here


After a long, cold, and dark winter, spring is finally just around the horizon, and there’s plenty of reason to be seriously excited. The days are full of more light, the temperature stays at a reasonable level, and the leaves, grass, and flowers change from shades of brown to beautiful bright greens. It also marks the vernal equinox, and the impact can be seen in nature no matter where in the world you are. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the vernal equinox?

The vernal equinox, which is also called the March equinox, is what marks the start of the spring season in the Northern Hemispheres, according to EarthSky. At the same time, on the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of its autumn seasons.

What does vernal equinox mean?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, vernal translates to mean “fresh” and “new” and the word equinox comes from the Latin words meaning “equal” and “night.”

“Essentially, our hours of daylight—the period of time each day between sunrise and sunset—have been growing slightly longer each day since the winter solstice in December,” the Farmer’s Almanac shares, “which is the shortest day of the year (at least in terms of light).”

When does vernal equinox happen?

This year, the start of spring will happen on March 20. More specifically it will happen at 15:33 UTC, which means 10:33am CDT or 11:33am EST.

In a typical year, the vernal equinox happens on March 21, but having it on the 20th isn’t unusual. “In 2020, spring fell on March 19th, the earliest first day of spring in 124 years,” the Farmer’s Almanac reports.

Can you see the signs of the vernal equinox?

We can’t see the signs of the vernal equinox in the sky as we can with some other earth astrological moments. However, nature shows a whole lot of these changes – some subtle, some not so much.

“Notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day,” EarthSky notes. “You’ll find that it’s shifting toward the north. Responding to the change in daylight, birds and butterflies are migrating back northward, too, along with the path of the sun.”

Some other larger changes we see in nature when spring comes around are longer days with more sunshine, warmer weather, and the plants and trees starting to grow. On the other side of the world, in the Southern Hemisphere, they’re seeing the opposite in nature. The air is getting colder, the sunlight comes less, and winter is just around the corner.

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