Spring Equinox 2021: What does equinox mean?

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The first signs of spring are in the air, with flowers starting to blossom and temperatures beginning to rise. Spring will officially start with the occurrence of an astronomical phenomenon known as the spring equinox, or vernal equinox, in March this year.

What does equinox mean?

An equinox occurs when the Sun is exactly above the Equator.

On the date of the equinox, the day and night are of approximately the same length.

There are two equinoxes every year which respectively signal the start of spring and autumn.

The start of spring is marked by the vernal equinox, while the start of autumn begins with the autumnal equinox.

There are also two solstices every year which mark the start of summer and winter.

The solstice occurs when the Sun is the farthest north or south from the Equator.

This year in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice will be on Monday, June 21, 2021.

When is the meteorological start of spring?

For people who follow the meteorological calendar, the seasons begin on the same date every year.

The first day of spring is March 1 and the first day of summer follows on June 1.

The first day of autumn is on September 1, before the first day of winter begins on December 1.

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When is the astronomical start of spring?

People who follow the astronomical calendar mark the start of the spring season on a different day to the meteorological calendar.

In 2021, the astronomical start of spring for the Northern Hemisphere is Saturday, March 20.

This is the date the vernal equinox is expected to take place, and day will be approximately as long as the night.

The astronomical start date of each of the four seasons can change from one year to the next.

The Met Office explains: “Astronomical seasons refer to the position of Earth’s orbit in relation to the Sun, considering equinoxes and solstices.

“This is due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis concerning its orbit around the Sun.

“Since the seasons vary in length, the start date of a new season can fall on different days each year.”

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