The Spring Equinox is Arriving: Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Editor’s Note: Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that spotlights some of the most fascinating topics in the travel world. In March, we’re heading to the great outdoors.
The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,In every street these tunes our ears do greet:Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!Spring, the sweet spring!
Sweet spring indeed – a time to observe the growing light, listen to the birds, smell the flowers and feel the growing warmth from the sun.
When is the Spring Equinox?
They’re all signs that spring equinox 2023 is arriving. This official first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere is a sign of rebirth, a time of tradition and a harmonious balance between day and night.
Some folks like things scheduled down to the minute.
• Honolulu (Hawaii): 11:24 a.m.
• San Francisco (California) and Victoria (Canada): 2:24 p.m.
• Santa Fe (New Mexico) and Guadalajara (Mexico): 3:24 p.m.
• Minneapolis (Minnesota) and Kingston (Jamaica): 4:24 p.m.
• Montreal (Canada) and Charleston (South Carolina): 5:24 p.m.
• Halifax (Canada): 6:24 p.m.
• Dublin (Ireland) and Accra (Ghana): 9:24 p.m.
• Paris (France) and Algiers (Algeria): 10:24 p.m.
• Helsinki (Finland) and Alexandria (Egypt): 11:24 p.m.
• Istanbul (Turkey) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): 12:24 a.m.
• Dubai (United Arab Emirates): 1:24 a.m.
• Mumbai (India): 2:54 a.m.
• Bangkok (Thailand) and Hanoi (Vietnam): 4:24 a.m.
• Singapore: 5:24 a.m.
• Seoul (South Korea) and Osaka (Japan): 6:24 a.m.
You can click here to see a listing of major cities. Or click here to look up the exact moment of the spring equinox where you live.
What Does This Mean for Different Parts of the World?
Folks in the Northern Hemisphere are looking forward to longer days, flowers and a burst of greenery. But for people living south of the equator, this equinox means they are heading into fall.
So for Chileans, South Africans and Australians, among others, this is a time to look forward to cooler autumn weather.
For people who reside near the equator (in places such as Quito, Ecuador, or Singapore), none of this is really a big deal. They get roughly 12 hours of daylight and nighttime year round.
What is the Vernal Equinox?
If you ever hear anyone say “vernal equinox,” it means the same thing.
The term equinox comes from the Latin word “equinoxium,” meaning “equality between day and night.” And vernal also comes from Latin and means “spring.”
How Does it Work?
The Earth rotates along an imaginary line that runs from North Pole to South Pole. It’s called the axis, and this rotation is what gives us day and night.
However, the axis tilts at 23.5 degrees, as NASA explains. That positions one hemisphere of the planet to get more sunlight than the other for half of the year’s orbit around the sun. This discrepancy in sunlight is what triggers the seasons.
But since the winter solstice three months ago in December, you’ve probably noticed that our days have been getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere and the nights shorter. And now here we are at the spring equinox!
Going forward, the Northern Hemisphere will be more exposed to the sun than the Southern Hemisphere. That’s why it gets increasingly warmer as we head toward the summer solstice in June.
What About Daylight and Nighttime?
It turns out you actually get a little more daylight than darkness on the equinox – and how much so depends where you are on the planet.
How does that happen when it’s supposed to be 12 hours of day and 12 hours night?
As the US National Weather Service explains, the “nearly” equal hours of day and night are because of the complex way a sunrise is measured and the refraction of sunlight in our atmosphere.
This bending of light rays “causes the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below the horizon.” The day is a bit longer at higher latitudes than at the equator because it takes the sun longer to rise and set the closer you get to the poles.
Other Interesting Facts
We got that truly equal day/night split a few days before the official spring equinox. That’s called the equilux.
If you’re a sky watcher, the website EarthSky points out the equinoxes – spring or autumn – are a superb time to orient yourself. The equinoxes are the only two times a year the sun rises due east and sets due west for everyone on the planet.
EarthSky says the equinox is “a good day for finding east and west from your yard or other favorite site for watching the sky. Just go outside around sunset or sunrise and notice the location of the sun on the horizon with respect to familiar landmarks.”
Another fun fact: The sun sets faster during the equinoxes than during solstices – and it’s true for both hemispheres. The reason? The setting sun hits the horizon at the steepest possible angle to Earth, EarthSky says.
The sun sets more slowly during solstices when the Earth’s tilt is most extreme. And the effect is more dramatic the farther you get from the equator. That’s why the sun never sets at all in the Arctic Circle during the time around the summer solstice.
Celebrations Around the World
In England, the mysterious stone structure of Stonehenge has been a popular gathering place for solstices and equinoxes. English Heritage organizes the events, and if you aren’t fond of big crowds, the equinoxes draw fewer people than the solstices typically.
In Mexico, the Mayan site Chichén Itzá has special equinox ties. At