4 Questions About the 2016 Vernal Equinox

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-19 16:36:15-04

1. When does the 2016 Vernal Equinox occur ?

Here in Baltimore, the first day of spring (or the Vernal Equinox) occurs on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 12:30 AM EDT

2. What is an Equinox?

An equinox is an astronomical event in which the plane of the Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun. This occurs twice a year, once in the spring and then again in the fall.

On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. They are not exactly equal, however, due to the angular size of the sun and atmospheric refraction.

3. Why is this year's Vernal Equinox so early?

2016 marks the earliest spring arrive since 1896! The March equinox can come on March 19, 20 or 21. This year's early spring is happening because the tropical year, as measured between successive March equinoxes, doesn’t have an even number of days (365.242 days). Our calendar, on the other hand, has an even 365 days in a common year and 366 days in a leap year.

4. Can you really balance an egg on its end during the Vernal Equinox?

The origins of this myth are attributed to stories that the ancient Chinese once told. It is possible to balance an egg on its end, but it has nothing do to with the vernal equinox. In fact, it can be performed on any day of the year.