Find the answers below. How well did you do?
- The equinox is not the “official” first day of spring:
The spring equinox, which occurs on March 20, is often referred to as the first “official” day of spring, but this is not universally agreed upon. For astronomers and physicists, the seasons are defined by the solstices and equinoxes. On the other hand, meteorologists and climate scientists define spring based on temperature cycles, which typically begin on March 1st. It’s also important to note that spring can be difficult to define because wintry weather often persists well beyond March in colder climates. Different cultures and regions may define spring differently, based on local meteorological conditions, traditional celebrations, or cultural beliefs.
- Balancing an egg on its end on the equinox:
There is a widespread belief that you can balance an egg on its end during the exact moment of the equinox. This belief likely originated from Chinese Lunar New Year traditions, but it has no scientific basis. In reality, an egg can be balanced on its end at any time of the year with a bit of patience and luck.
- Sunrise and sunset are not exactly 12 hours apart:
The spring equinox is characterized by nearly equal amounts of daylight and darkness across the globe, and the term “equinox” itself means “equal night” in Latin. However, both hemispheres receive slightly more than 12 hours of daylight. This is due to two factors: atmospheric refraction, which bends the sun’s light and causes the sun to appear higher in the sky than it actually is, and the definition of sunrise and sunset. Sunrise is defined as the moment the sun’s upper edge appears on the horizon, while sunset occurs when the sun’s upper edge disappears. Together, these factors can add about 10 minutes of daylight to the equinox, depending on one’s location relative to the equator.
- The spring equinox is not always on March 20:
The exact time of the spring equinox can vary from year to year, meaning that the date can also vary. To avoid confusion with time zones, the equinox is typically based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. As a result, the spring equinox can occur anywhere from March 19 to March 21. This year’s spring equinox is the earliest since 1896, and it will continue to arrive earlier with each passing leap year until 2044. After that, it will occur on March 19 on every leap year until 2100. After 2100, the equinox will eventually drift later again.
- Spring is not always warmer than fall:
Many people expect spring weather to be warm and sunny, especially after the cold days of winter. However, spring is not always as warm as one might expect. In fact, the spring equinox is typically colder than the fall equinox in September, and in most of the Lower 48 states, spring as a whole is a few degrees colder than fall. This is due to seasonal temperature lag, as there is much more sunlight in spring compared to fall, but much of the additional heat from the sun takes time to reach the ground and warm the air.