Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Celebrating the 2020 Spring Equinox » Lowell Observatory

Celebrating the 2020 Spring Equinox

By Madison Mooney

What is an equinox?

An equinox is the moment at which which the sun crosses directly over the celestial equator, an imaginary projection of the earth’s equator into space. At these times, which occur twice a year, day and night are of approximately equal length. In most cultures in the northern hemisphere, the equinoxes mark the beginning of spring and fall. In some ancient cultures, the spring equinox corresponds with the beginning of the new year.

When is the spring equinox?

The spring equinox occurs around March 20 each year, with slight variations due to the Gregorian calendar’s leap year cycle. The approximate moment of equinox (when the sun is directly over the celestial equator) will occur at 3:49 am UTC (universal time) on March 20, 2020. This corresponds to 8:49 pm MST (GMT-7) on March 19.

How do I observe the spring equinox?

On the morning of the equinox (March 19), watch for the sun rising due east on the horizon, marking the shift from winter to spring. In the evening, the sun will set due west. You can also join Lowell Observatory for a live stream of our Spring Equinox Celebration:

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In the coming weeks, you will observe that the arc of the sun is getting higher and higher in the northern hemisphere’s sky with each sunset and sunrise. As we move into summer, the sun will move further north along the horizon.