There are two such moments every single year when the Sun is said to shine on the Equator directly. These moments happen in the months of March and September. And this is also when the day and night are of exactly the same length. The moment when this phenomenon takes place is known as the Vernal Equinox.

This article highlights all about what exactly the Vernal Equinox is and how it works. You can find more info on carlkruse.org.

 

What is the Vernal Equinox?

Vernal equinox is a phenomenon observed twice in a whole year in which the Sun is situated right on top of the Equator and so the night and day are of exactly the same duration. Additionally, this is also when one of the two points, that is, the celestial equator and the ecliptics intersect in the sky. This phenomenon i.e., vernal equinox is observed on the 20th or 21st of March in the Northern Hemisphere. This is because this is the time when the Sun moves across the celestial equator while going towards the Northern direction. However, the vernal equinox is observed on the 22nd or 23rd of September in the Southern Hemisphere. This is because this is the time the Sun is found to move across the celestial equator while moving towards the Southern direction. Vernal equinox is also the moment that marks the commencement of spring season astronomically.  And this continues until the 21st or 22nd of December in the Southern Hemisphere or the 20th or 21st of June in the Northern Hemisphere. This is called the summer solstice.

 

What is a Solstice?

People are often found to confuse the term equinox with solstice.  Solstice is basically one of the two moments in an entire year in which the sun is situated farthest from the point known as the celestial equator. The root of the word solstice has been derived from the Latin word ‘solstitium.’ This word means “the standing still of the sun” in literal terms. Solstice is the moment that takes place on the 21st of June or the 22nd of December.

Factors that Start the Spring Season marking the Vernal Equinox

Luckily, winters don’t last forever and as soon as such harsh, cold days are over, this season is then replaced by the much more pleasant, sunnier and warmer days of the spring season. There are two factors that cause the spring season to replace winter. These are the revolution of the earth about the sun and the tilt of the Earth about its own axis. The effects of both these factors work in concert to help us move into the spring season from winter. This spring season starts at the time of the vernal equinox, which is a moment when the sun shines on the equator of the Earth directly making the lengths of both the day and night about the same, in the Southern and the Northern Hemispheres. The meaning of the term ‘Equinox’ in literal terms is ‘equal night’.

 

What Really Happens on the Equinox?

The axis of the Earth is found to be inclined at a 23.4° angle approximately relative to the level of the ecliptic. The level of the ecliptic is basically an imaginary plane which has been generated by the path of the Earth’s revolution about the Sun. Even though either of the two hemispheres usually tilts just a bit in the Sun’s direction on any other regular day, on the moments of the two equinoxes, the axis of the Earth is almost at a right angle to the rays of the Sun.

Celebrations of New Beginnings

The Vernal Equinox or the March Equinox has been celebrated by people in the Northern Hemisphere as a time of rebirth for years now. The various different kinds of cultures take it as a time to celebrate many holidays and spring festivals about this equinox, such as Passover and Easter.

Basically, many of the early cultures used to believe that this equinox symbolized that they were about to have all their food supplies returned soon again. As far as the early Egyptians and their culture regarding this equinox is concerned, they actually constructed the Great Sphinx which would basically point in the direction from where the Sun would rise on the particular day of the March equinox. For the Christians, vernal equinox is actually rather essential because right after this phenomenon, they always have Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon.

Superstitions and Legends

People have also been found and heard talking about a certain supernatural phenomenon that takes place particularly on the day of the vernal equinox. Legend has it that the vernal equinox has such special astronomical features that it makes it possible to balance many eggs on end.

However, this isn’t actually a supernatural phenomenon taking place. In fact, one can simply balance some eggs on end on all days throughout the year. All you really need for that is some determination and obviously a lot of patience. So there is no magical phenomenon related to the vernal equinox to make it easier for people to balance eggs on end.

This is an interesting and a popularly known legend that might have started because of various people and their various beliefs.  Some people do believe that it was the Chinese people who might have introduced the action of balancing eggs on end particularly on the vernal equinox. Since we already are aware that the night and day are of the same lengths on this day, it’s actually rather possible that this is why the Chinese selected balanced eggs as a symbol to represent such an astronomical wonder.

Bottom-line

We have always been full of excitement about entering into the spring season from that of winter. And it’s quite fascinating to learn about how the Vernal Equinox brings the spring season officially to us after completing winter. Hopefully, the article has done a good job in educating the readers on what the Vernal Equinox is and how it really works.