Tonight is the Spring Equinox!

March 19, 2020 by Team Journey North

The spring equinox happens tonight! Report your day length and seasonal signs of spring.

A clear spring view of the Great Lakes The spring thaw is underway in the Great Lakes region of North America. (NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Text by Kathryn Hansen; March 27,2019)

An Early Equinox

The spring (vernal) equinox occurs today, March 19, 2020 at 3:49 Universal Time – or at 10:49 pm Central Standard Time for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the point when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north. 

Notice anything different about this year’s equinox? If you have a hunch it is a little early this year, you are correct! The vernal equinox has not occurred this early since 1896 – 124 years ago!

Signs of Spring

Have you noticed day length slowly increasing or any seasonal signs spring? Many Journey North citizen scientists are picking up on small, subtle changes that accompany seasonal transitions. Longer days and the return of certain plant and animal species are providing much-needed joy.

From Toronto, ON: Don said, ”Toronto butterfly enthusiast Susan Brown reported to the the Google group Ontario Butterflies that she spotted her first mourning cloak butterfly of 2020 at Bestview Park, Toronto, on Monday, March 9, 2020. Susan noted that this bested her previous early mourning cloak sighting in this park (March 11). We have had a few warm days in Toronto, and temperatures on Monday reached 60 F. Not a record. Temperatures drop back to freezing tomorrow. This report and photograph submitted with permission and best wishes from Susan Brown.” (03/09/2020)

From Elmira, NY: Jennifer observed, “crocuses are here! Here are 2 and there is also 1 in the middle of our yard which is unusual. In past years we usually just get 1. They don’t last long so I was lucky to see them!!” (03/15/2020)

From Youngstown, OH: Rich noted, “I have had maybe a dozen Eastern Bluebirds appear in my backyard, which is very woodsy and overlooks the Mill Creek Golf course. I think i saw one last year and hardly ever seen one in the in the last 5 years until now. Why all of a sudden? Possibly because we have had very little snow and a very mild winter.” (03/04/2020)

From Gowganda, ON: Gert said, “I was away…but it is surprising how fast the sun is moving westward. The sun is streaming into my dining room once again.” (02/20/2020)

What to Report

  • Report you day length for March 19, 2020.
  • Report seasonal signs of spring.

How to Report your Day Length (Photoperiod)

Step 1: Look up your sunrise/sunset for March 19 using Google or other internet search engines. 

Step 2: Calculate the length of time between sunrise and sunset. 

Step 3: Report your day length for March 19.

Step 4: Explore the daylight map.

Read more on why spring is early this year.

Sunset

Sunset

Gowganda, ON (02/20/2020)