March 20 2021
The Spring Season on the astronomical calendar began at 5:37 AM. This is the moment when the direct rays of the sun cross north over the equator after 6 months focused on the Southern Hemisphere.
There are a few ways of looking at this event, but looking at the sunlight actually shows it is not equal with darkness. Also, what’s the true story about standing an egg on its end today?
Earth Orbit And The Sun
The tilt of Earth and orbit around the sun, allows the direct rays to shift between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere throughout the year.
- Spring and Summer, more direct sunlight is in the north of the equator.
- Equinox, the direct rays are on the equator.
- Fall and Winter, more direct sunlight is south of the equator.
We are in the fastest increase of daylight of the year. Each day now is gaining 2 minutes and 36 seconds of daylight in Baltimore.
- Sunrise Today at 7:09 AM
- Sunset Today at 7:18 PM
Daylight Time: 12 Hours 9 Minutes and 17 seconds.
We passed the ‘equal’ daylight and darkness three days ago.
- March 17 Sunrise at 7:14 AM
- March 17 Sunset at 7:15 PM
Light bends around the atmosphere. This image shows sunrise as seen from the International Space Station. The glow of light appearing above the sun shows how light bends around our atmosphere before you see the actual sun. That bend is what gives it that red and orange color.
Something to think about: We see the sunlight rise earlier and set later because it bends around the curved atmosphere. But, the light from the sun itself takes about 8 minutes to reach Earth. During the day, we are seeing sunlight that is old, or delayed.
The coolest video seen in space: Sunrise from NASA and ISS
Climate Data for Baltimore
If you were to compare that to the the other ‘equinox’
March 20 Normal High = 55ºF.
Sep 22 Normal High = 76ºF
That is a big difference, despite the same sun angle.
This is due to lag of temperature. It takes time for the peak sunlight to warm up the surface.
On any given day, the sun is highest in the sky between noon and 1 PM, but the hottest daily high would be between 3 to 5 PM.
Our strongest solar rays are on June 21, but the hottest temperatures are the middle of July, weeks later.
In short, there is a delayed response of warming, but also cooling. Since the ground and nearby water is still chilly from winter, that residual cold helps delay our heating. The upcoming longer days and shorter nights will change that quickly.
Next Month: April in Baltimore
We will gain 1 Hour and 10 minutes of daylight
April 1 Average High = 59ºF
April 30 Average High = 70ºF
Stand An Egg On End?
A teacher in my High School tried to convince the class that the equal force of the sun’s gravitational pull on the equator would allow an egg to stand on it’s end during an equinox. Simply put, that is not true! It’s a demonstration I continue to see in both autumn and spring.
I actually tried this many years ago at WBNG-TV in Binghamton. Since I could not duplicate it, I used double sided scotch tape to keep the egg upright during the broadcast.
The truth: If you have the right egg and a flat spot to sit it on… just add patience and a steady hand will do the balancing any day of the year. I’m not the only one to debunk this.
Check out this old video I found online showing a similar demonstration.
Technically the equinox marks when sun will set on the north pole to begin 6 months of darkness. It will look more like twilight for about a month. On the flip side, the sun will rise on the south pole.
Video: National Geographic Describes Equinox Around The Globe
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