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Day and night in perfect balance

This article first appeared in the 3/25/20 edition of the Davis Enterprise

Day and night in perfect balance

The illumination of Earth by the Sun on the day of an equinox (vernal or autumnal). Photo author is Przemyslaw Idzkiewicz.

Day and night in perfect balance


By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise


The spring, or vernal, equinox marks the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  This year it was on Thursday, March 19 in North America, which is the earliest it has been since 1896!  While we look forward to spring with the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are preparing for fall with the autumnal equinox.


Equinox is derived from Latin: aequus which is equal, and nox which is night, meaning “equal night”.  At an equinox, spring or fall, the day and night are the closest to being equal in time than any other time of the year.  Since the winter solstice in December, the days have been getting longer, and we will continue to get longer daytime hours until the summer solstice in June.


Because of non-perfect elliptical orbit of earth around the sun, the day/night hours of an equinox are not perfectly equal, but it is the closest they will be until the fall equinox.  Even though the hours are not perfect, the two equinoxes are the only time of the year that the sun will rise at due east and set at due west.  At the equator, the sun would appear directly overhead at noon.


The spring equinox is the time we look forward to warmer weather and longer days.  To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Explorit will be closed until public health restrictions have been lifted or eased.  Our staff is working remotely and will be answering emails, please contact us at with any questions.


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