Things You Were Fine Not Knowing About the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere

That title was already more than you wanted to know.

Q: What did the mother worm say to the little worm??

A: Where on earth have you been?!

A: Where on earth have you been?!

Things you didn't care one way or the other about on this day the vernal equinox, a.k.a. the first day of spring, a.k.a. officially spring, a.k.a. the March equinox, a.k.a. the spring equinox, a.k.a. springtide, a.k.a. March 20th, 2019.

  1. It is not official. Apparently, there isn't a universally accepted definition of the seasons. Climate scientists and meteorologists define the seasons annually by temperature cycles. Astronomers, physicists and those of us navigating the world by the sky define the seasons by the solstices and equinoxes. Still, others define spring by the last freeze or heavy snowfall.

  2. It is the only time of year when the sun rises precisely due east and sets precisely due west for everyone across the earth. Wait, what? I know. You don't care. Here's the thing... the earth is on an axis spinning counter clockwise and also rotating around the sun. It takes approximately 365 days for earth to complete its rotation around the sun. Two of those 365 days, a.k.a. the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the axis lines up just so that the earth is split in two equal parts on her axis. Any other day and the split is unequal to varying degrees. The solstices mark the longest and shortest day of the year, a.k.a. the earth nearest or farthest from the sun.

  3. There is also a full moon rising tonight which hasn't happened in almost two decades. The full moon in March is usually the last full moon of winter and is commonly called the full worm moon, a reference to the appearance of worms emerging from the softer, warmer ground. The next time the worm moon, a.k.a. the Lenten moon, a.k.a the sugar moon, a.k.a the crow moon will happen on the equinox will be in 2030. This full worm moon is a super full worm moon and will appear just a bit brighter than a regular full moon.

  4. March 20th marks the start of the zodiac calendar. I have a whole thing about zodiac signs that you can read more about here, but it is Aries season. It is a time to plant new seeds both figuratively and literally, according to the Chalkboard Mag. Aries brings rebirth, innovation, and renewal. Start an intention journal, be brave, and get outdoors.

  5. Our ancestors used the sky to navigate their world. The well known Chichen Itza has a sculpture that blazes with sunlight only on the Equinox. An ancient Peruvian desert site called Chankillo has a complex observatory resembling a spine built to align with the equinox. For some tribes indigenous to the Americas, the equinox also signaled migration. The Lakota tribe noticed that every spring equinox aligned with the constellation known as the Dried Willow. The inner bark of the red willow was used to make tobacco for the sacred pipe during the spring equinox.

  6. Atmospheric refraction means nothing is real and everything is an illusion. The word equinox comes from the Latin words aequus and nox meaning equal and night, respectively. Even though the equinox celebrates equal sunlight and moonlight, by the day of the Vernal Equinox it is possible the sun is ahead by about ten minutes and the day with actual equal light was a few days ago. The sun appears as disk and not a single point. Sunrise is determined when the sun’s top bit appears on the horizon and sunset when the top bit disappears along the horizon. We would need the sun to shrink and to live in a world without air to have truly equal nights.

Clear skies are projected so get out there! Go into the light!

“Leela, I had  worms ! I had to find out who you really loved, me or them.” - Futurama, Parasites Lost.

“Leela, I had worms! I had to find out who you really loved, me or them.” - Futurama, Parasites Lost.


SOURCES

1. Langone, Alix. When is the First Day of Spring? 4 Things to Know About the Equinox. Time, 18 March 2018. http://time.com/5189319/when-is-the-first-day-of-spring-2018-4-things-to-know-about-the-equinox/

2. Grieser, Justin. Spring Starts Sunday- Five myths about the Equinox, Debunked. The Washington Post, 18 March 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/03/18/astronomical-spring-starts-sunday-five-myths-about-the-vernal-equinox/?utm_term=.3cbcf7372970

3. Vecchiato, Alberto. Do the Sun and Moon Really Rise in the East? Sky and Telescope, 02 January 2018. https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/sunrise-moonrise-east/

4. Boeckmann, Catherine. First Day of Spring 2019: The Spring Equinox. Almanac, 15 March 2019. https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox

5. March: Worm Moon. Time and Date, 2019. https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/worm.html

6. Wu, Alison. 6 Things You Should Know About the 2019 Spring Equinox. The Chalkboard, 19 March 2019. https://thechalkboardmag.com/spring-equinox-2019-meaning

7. Drake, Nadia. Vernal Equinox 2018: Facts About the First Day of Spring. National Geographic, 20 March 2018. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/what-is-vernal-equinox-spring-sun-moon-earth-science/