Astronomical spring began just after midnight Sunday as the Earth’s position in relation to the Sun is such that the rays of the Sun are shining directly overhead on the equator. This means if you traveled to the equator where it was noon as spring began and looked up the sun would be exactly in the center of the sky. From this point forward, until the first day of summer on June 21st the sun will be overhead at noon a bit further north of the equator each day. Late in June the process will reverse itself as the sun’s apparent position sinks lower in the sky for another 6 months.

vernal equinox

For us here in New England the sun is now at about 48 degrees above the horizon at noon, that number is increasing daily and will peak on the first day of summer around 71 degrees. As you know, once we get to the final 10 days of June, the Sun’s maximum strength for the year and the most amount of daylight have already been reached.

Over the next 90 days we will gain another 3 hours of daylight peaking at over 15 hours. When the amount of daylight starts shrinking it does so at a very slow rate, which is why it’s not until around mid-July you really start noticing it.

We are currently gaining 2 minutes and 52 second of daylight every 24 hours and by the middle of next month our sunrises will be back to where they were before daylight saving time began a week ago.

Latin Derivation 

In Latin, the first day of spring is called is called the vernal equinox. The term vernal is Latin for “spring” and equinox is Latin for “equal night.” The length of day and night are generally equal across the entire planet today. It doesn’t matter whether you are standing on the north or south poles, the equator or anywhere in the middle, nearly everyone has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. It’s not exact because of time zones, topography and other geological factors.

Cultural Significance

Spring’s beginning is important for many cultures. Today marks the beginning of Nowruz (“The New Day”), which is the Persian New Year. This festival lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zoroastrianism. It is celebrated in Iran, the North Caucasus, Kurdish parts of Turkey and Northern Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and other scattered populations in Central Asia.

Easter is March 27th, which is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon, Wednesday the 23rd, after the vernal equinox.

Just because the tilt of the Earth is such that the sun’s rays are directly overhead at the equator doesn’t mean anything special in terms of egg balancing. It’s a myth that it is possible to balance an egg on its end on the spring. Spending your time balancing an oval-shaped object on its end is no easier on the spring equinox than on any other day.