Today is the first day of spring for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, which is marked by the arrival of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.
If this seems early to you, you’re right! In fact, this is the earliest the Vernal (Spring) Equinox has occurred in 124 years. Traditionally, we celebrate the first day of spring on March 21, but astronomers and calendar manufacturers alike now say that the spring season starts on March 20th, in all time zones in North America. And in 2020, it’s even a day earlier than that—something that hasn’t happened since 1896.
The vernal equinox marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator. This is the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator, from south to north. The vernal equinox happens on March 19, 20, or 21 every year in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, this same event marks the beginning of fall. Meteorologists mark the spring from March 1 through May 31st.
What Does Vernal Equinox Mean?
Essentially, our hours of daylight — the period of time each day between sunrise and sunset — have been growing slightly longer each day since the Winter Solstice in December, which is the shortest day of the year (at least in terms of light).
Even after three months of lengthening days, though, we still see less light than darkness over the course of a day. The vernal equinox marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness.
So get ready for longer days and increased sunshine! More sunshine means the grass will be growing, trees will be budding and spring flowers will start popping up.