Spring Equinox 2020

John Williams

20 Mar 2020

Spring is nature’s way of saying: “Let’s party!” – Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Friday, 20 March 2020 marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (vernal equinox) and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere – the earliest that the equinox has occurred in 124 years.

According to the astronomy reference book “Astronomical Table of the Sun, Moon and Planets” (Willmann-Bell, 2016), the exact moment of the equinox will occur at 03.49 GMT on 20 March. This is when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit where its axis is not tilted towards or away from the Sun. Thus, the Sun will be directly over a specific point on the Earth’s equator moving northwards.

Optical Illusion

Photo by Shutterstock

The Sun is above the horizon for half of the day and below it for the other half. However, the Earth’s atmosphere bends the rays of sunlight around the Earth’s curvature when the Sun lies close to the horizon (refraction).

Because of this bending of the Sun’s rays, the disc of the Sun is always seen slightly higher above the horizon than it really is. In fact, when you see the Sun appearing to sit on the horizon, what you are looking at is an optical illusion; the Sun at that moment is actually below the horizon.

Solar PV Yield

Solar-based solutions are very appealing because of their unique versatility and ability to provide direct renewable electricity to homes, public buildings, farms, businesses, carports and charging stations.

Solar power is often cheaper than any other power generation source today, and its attractiveness is only increasing as the cost reduction curve continues at a much faster pace than for any other technology.

For the solar industry in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox marks the beginning of the season of increased yield.

The amount of irradiation is key. Ambient temperature is not a major factor.

Raw Egg Folklore

According to folklore, on the equinox you can stand a raw egg on its end. This egg folklore became popular in 1945 following a LIFE article about this spring myth.

According to John Millis, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Anderson University (Indiana, US), “The origins of this myth are attributed to stories that the ancient Chinese would create displays of eggs standing on end during the first day of spring.”

“The ancient Chinese celebrated the first day of spring about six weeks earlier than the equinox.” So it’s not just on the equinox itself.

As with most folklore, it may only be partly true. Perhaps the equinox has nothing to do with it. But folklore or not, this egg trick sounds like fun to us. Try this yourself and let us know what happens.

Tip: you’ll probably have better luck balancing a dragon’s egg on a rough surface or an egg that has a bumpy end.