Separating fact from fiction about the first day of spring

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – After a cold week, it’s a welcome thought that the first day of spring is coming: Monday, Mach 20, 2017 at 6:29 A.M. EDT to be exact.

It is one of two equinoxes that happen every year, ‘equi’ meaning equal and ‘nox’ meaning night. The spring and fall equinoxes are supposed to be a day with equal daylight and night across the globe, but it doesn’t exactly work out that way.

Yes, the sun’s rays are directly over the Equator on the first day of spring (and fall), but the sun is not a point, but a disc. That causes a slight difference in the amount of daylight received. Also, the sun’s light is refracted, or bent, as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. This works to add a few extra minutes of daylight on the equinoxes

There are two days a year when we see exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. These days are known as the equilux. Here in the East, the equilux happens on March 16 and September 26 in 2017. Below is a table showing the number of daylight hours in 2017 in Greenville.

One common myth about the equinox is that you can balance an egg on its end. The truth is, you can do this any day of the year if you try hard enough. There is no direct tie to the equinox.

 

However, there is another experiment you can do that only works on the equinox. From timeanddate.com:

Find an empty space such as a park or a parking lot where there are few tall buildings, trees or hills to obstruct the sun. Find your location’s latitude. Subtract this number from 90. This will be the angle you will affix the stick in the ground.

In the Northern Hemisphere, use your compass to find south and point the stick in that direction. Using the protractor fix the stick in the ground at the angle you just calculated – remember to point it in the direction opposite to the hemisphere you are on.

Wait until noon and see the shadow of the stick disappear. At Noon, the stick will have no shadow at all!

 

The weather looks pretty nice for the first day of spring, sunshine and highs in the 60’s.

 

Enjoy!

 

– Meteorologist Pierce Legeion

Pierce Legeion is a meteorologist and digital journalist for WNCT 9 First Alert Weather.

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