Weekend Diversion: A little Sun for everyone

Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon. -Oscar Wilde

Yesterday was the spring equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, and my city was lucky enough to have a glorious day, clear skies, warm weather, and I spent most of the day outside. I had the type of day that Dan Tyminski pines for in this song, Some Early Morning.

But yesterday -- the equinox -- was special for another reason that you don't often hear about. You see, the Earth rotates on its axis, tilted at a fairly severe 23.5 degrees.

During the months April through August, the northern hemisphere gets long days and lots of sunlight, while the South Pole gets nothing but freezing darkness. On the other hand, from October through February, the southern hemisphere gets the long days, while the North Pole never sees the Sun.

But our equinoxes -- and we only get two per year -- are very, very special. The Sun illuminates all parts of the Earth equally on these days.

These are the only days of the year where everywhere on Earth has a chance at Sunlight. Moreover, on the equinoxes, everybody gets twelve hours of Sun (well, they would if the skies were clear) and twelve hours of night. Everyone. North Pole, South Pole, Equator, and everywhere in between. Starting today and all the days after for the next six months, someone at the South Pole will never see the Sun. Just like for the prior six months, Santa Claus (and everyone else at the North Pole) never saw the Sun.

The spring equinox was not only our switch, it was one of two days a year where everyone got the same amount of daylight. That's even where the word equinox comes from: equi = equal + nox = night. So I hope you enjoyed it, and to those of you in the northern hemisphere with me, we've got six months where things should only get better!

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Congrats! You've been Mabussed.

Just listened to the 365 Days of Astronomy for the 20th going over the same deal.

And yesterday was also our new year because of the exact same reason!

By Lotharloo (not verified) on 21 Mar 2010 #permalink

Surely you mean 3 months where things should only get better? After the summer solstice the days get shorter and that, to me, is definitely things getting worse. It's after the winter solstice that things get better for 6 months.

By Julian Smith (not verified) on 21 Mar 2010 #permalink

It is the intelligence behind all the rules of the nature which attract my attention and invite me to think about.

By mansour daftarian (not verified) on 25 Mar 2010 #permalink

This means at certain times of the year, the Northern Hemisphere is more directly facing the Sun, while 6 months later when the Earth is on the other side of the Sun, the Southern Hemisphere is more directly facing the Sun.
Annuities

By Benjamin Bratt (not verified) on 29 Apr 2010 #permalink

Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.

This means at certain times of the year, the Northern Hemisphere is more directly facing the Sun, while 6 months later when the Earth is on the other side of the Sun, the Southern Hemisphere is more directly facing the Sun.

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Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.

I love summer and the sun wish it lasted a little longer in this area before i know it we are back to the dark days!

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I work outdoors and i love the summertime because i can work until 9pm and the sun is still shining. During the winter time, the flashlights come out at 4pm. Major bummer.

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This means at certain times of the year, the Northern Hemisphere is more directly facing the Sun, while 6 months later when the Earth is on the other side of the Sun, the Southern Hemisphere is more directly facing the Sun.

Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon. It is the intelligence behind all the rules of the nature which attract my attention and invite me to think about.

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What I find odd is that during winter, Earth is closer to the sun than during summer. It's the affect of the axis tilt that causes more sunlight to hit the Earth in the summer that counts. Annuities

the picture is wrong. the axis of the earth is not perpendicular to the suns rays contact.

It is if it's one of the two equinoxes, dan.