Earliest Spring in over 100 years arrives on Thursday

Earliest Spring in over 100 years arrives on Thursday”

When winter officially changes into spring at 11:50 p.m. EDT, Thursday, March 19, that will be the earliest start to spring in 124 years!

Spring keeps getting earlier and earlier.

Spring equinox comes with two notably different features in 2020 - one sad, one happy.

On the vernal (spring) equinox, day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox).

A day-old lamb explores new surroundings on the first day of spring, March 20, 2019, at Coombes Farm in Lancing, England. 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.

One spin of the Earth around its axis is one day.

At the same time, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, creating winter there. The date varies because the 365-day calendar doesn't perfectly line up with the motion of the Earth around the sun.

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So the leap day meant to get us back in sync with the Earth's solar orbit doesn't quite do it. It involves how leap years, leap centuries, the Gregorian calendar and the speed of the Earth's rotation don't precisely align and how and when we make periodic adjustments to sync things up as much as possible. The exception is for years exactly divisible by 100. But, not ALL leap years. They're caused by the Earth's 23.5-degree tilt on its axis as it makes its way around the sun.

The apparent path of the sun as observed from the Earth's surface in the Northern Hemisphere.

The exact moment that the Sun appears to be over the equator, in either case, is known as an Equinox. Because of leap years, the dates of the equinoxes and solstices can shift by a day or two over time, causing the start dates of the seasons to shift, too.

On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal everywhere on Earth.

Additionally, this is the earliest vernal equinox seen from North America in 124 years. In March, it crosses from south to north, and in September, it crosses from north to south. 1700, 1800, 1900) unless that year is also a multiple of 400 (e.g.

From late September to late March, the North Pole is angled away from the Sun, so that the Sun is positioned more directly over the southern hemisphere, and the Sun reaches its lowest point in the northern sky (and highest in the southern sky) on or around December 22.

In times of upheaval such as these, it may be comforting to know that the cycle of seasons can be counted on to continue to like clockwork.

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