Happy Vernal Equinox

A quarter-year since the precise minute of the winter soltice, we are now halfway to the astronomical pinnacle of summer. The fact that Ottawa is still seriously snow-bound effectively demonstrates the lag time between longer and more direct exposure to the sun and increased temperatures.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Happy Vernal Equinox”

  1. The Vernal Equinox marks the first day of various calendars including the Iranian calendar and the Bahá’í calendar.[3] The Persian (Iranian) festival of Nowruz is celebrated then. According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people. It is also a holiday for Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, India, Turkey, Zanzibar, Albania, and various countries of Central Asia, as well as among the Kurds. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday, it is also a holy day for adherents of the Bahá’í Faith, and the Nizari Ismaili Muslims, commonly known as the Aga Khanis.

    It also marks the Wiccan Sabbat of Ostara (or Eostar), while at the autumn equinox the Wiccan Sabbat of Mabon is celebrated.

    In Japan, Vernal Equinox Day (Shunbun no hi) is an official national holiday, and is spent visiting family graves and holding family reunions.

  2. In many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the March equinox.

    The September equinox was “New Year’s Day” in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. The French First Republic was proclaimed and the French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792, making the following day the equinox day that year, the first day of the “Republican Era” in France. The start of every year was to be determined by astronomical calculation, (that is: following the real Sun and not the mean Sun as all other calendars).

  3. Although the word “equinox” implies equal length of day and night, as is noted elsewhere, this is not true. For most locations on earth, there are two distinct identifiable days per year when the length of day and night are closest to being equal. Those days are commonly referred to as the “equiluxes” to distinguish them from the equinoxes. Equinoxes are points in time, but equiluxes are days. By convention, equiluxes are the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart. This way, you can refer to a single date as being the equilux, when, in reality, it spans sunset on one day to sunset the next, or sunrise on one to sunrise the next. As an example, for a city 45°N and 123°W (Portland, Oregon), the 2006 autumnal equilux was on September 25 when sunrise was at 7:01 am and sunset was at 7:02 pm. The 2006 autumnal equinox was on September 22 at 9:03 pm (all times in Pacific Time Zone). On both hemispheres, the autumnal equilux lags behind the equinox, and the vernal equilux is ahead of the equinox.

  4. Because of time zones? The equinox is a moment in time: the point where the rate of change of the length of days is at a maximum – where the first derivative is at a local maximum and the second derivative is zero (no concavity).

    Such a condition could never persist across an entire day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *