When the Julian calendar was established around 45 BC, a date in March was fixed for the vernal equinox, that time and moment in the Spring when night and day are of equal length. It has to do with the tilt of the earth toward the sun and at this time it’s approximately zero. But the hours of night and day are not really exactly the same. George Greenstein, an astronomer had this to say: “There are two reasons. First, light rays from the Sun are bent by the Earth’s atmosphere. (This is why the Sun appears squashed when it sets.) They are bent in such a way that we are actually able to see the Sun before it rises and after it sets. The second reason is that daytime begins the moment any part of the Sun is over the horizon, and it is not over until the last part of the Sun has set. If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’”
In the northern hemisphere, we celebrate the return of the light, actually beginning at Winter solstice but even more so in the Spring with the advent of new growth that we can see and smell. In the southern hemisphere, not so, as it’s autumn there and the amount of daylight is descreasing. While we may spend more time inside than outside in the winter, we are now glad to be outside again, except of course for some miserable Springtime allergies. And the closer you are to the earth, the more enhanced the senses. I usually remember at this time of the year that Easter (Eostre, pagan goddess of Spring) is the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox, a moveable feast to be sure.
What can we learn from Mother Nature? Photosynthesis is as natural to plants as eating is to humans. In fact, there are some similarities with several significant exceptions. One is that plants seldom overeat. They take what they need, water from the ground through their roots, CO2 from the air and sunlight to turn water and CO2 into oxygen and glucose. The way they do this is called photosynthesis which means literally “putting together with light.”
10 Remember that too much sun may be more damaging than not enough.
Today, March 20, 2015, the vernal equinox takes place at 22:45 UTC, (Universal Coordinated Time). You can calculate your time zone accordingly. Mine, MDT, will be 4:45 PM.