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The 2014 Vernal Equinox

17 Mar 2014, 07:01 UTC
The 2014 Vernal Equinox
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The Vernal (Spring) Equinox is on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 16:57 GMT. It happens at a specific time on that date, at the point where the Earth’s rotational axis is pointed 90° away from the Sun, and the Sun is exactly over Earth’s Equator. Same thing happens in September, at the Autumnal Equinox. Click on the thumbnail below for more details.

Every year around this time I get questions about the Equinox. Those questions generally fall into 3 categories:

What exactly is the Vernal Equinox?
What the connection between the Vernal Equinox and Easter?
Can you really balance an egg on its pointy end on the Vernal Equinox?

The first question is about astronomy, and it’s easy to answer. Earth’s rotational axis remain fixed in space, tilted at 23.5° relative to its orbit as it circles the Sun. It’s like what a spinning gyroscope does when you move it around. So that means there must be two times each year when Earth’s rotational axis is pointed exactly 90° away from the Sun — those two points are the Equinoxes.
On an Equinox, there are 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night (approximately). The thumbnail above pretty ...

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