Why Today Is the First Day of Spring: Before You Balance That Egg, Read This
Millions of people across the Midwest and Central U.S. felt the cold of another winter storm just last week, but Americans can look forward to the first day of spring very soon.
When is the first day of spring?
On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 5:58 p.m. ET, the spring equinox, also known as vernal equinox, will bring the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Can you really balance an egg on the equinox?
Some say you can balance a raw egg on its end during the vernal equinox. This bit of folklore became popular in 1945 after LIFE published an article about the balancing act, but the myth has been debunked as only partly true, according to AccuWeather.
The fact-checking website Snopes reports, “this same feat can be achieved every other day of the year as well.”
So, yes, it’s possible to balance an egg on the equinox, but it’s also possible to balance an egg on other days, too. In fact, several Almanac editors attempted the trick one spring, and 17 out of 24 eggs stood standing, they said. After trying the trick again three days after the equinox, the editors found similar results.
What’s the difference between an equinox and a solstice?
Twice every year, the equinox occurs in autumn (September 21) and in spring (March 19, 20, or 21—it varies) bringing with it a seasonal change. The word “equinox” means “equal night,” which is why it occurs two times per year when the day and night are of equal lengths, each 12 hours.
The spring equinox occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. The “celestial equator” is an imaginary line above the Earth’s equator. However, this equinox marks the start of different seasons in either hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the March equinox announces the start of fall.
Every day since the December winter solstice has been slightly longer than the last, in preparation for the spring equinox, which “marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness,” notes the Farmer’s Almanac.
The equinox is not the only marker of seasonal changes. Each year, there are also two solstices that signify a change of season. The word “solstice” refers to the moment when the sun is standing at either its northernmost or southernmost point.
Solstice marks the start of the winter and summer seasons (in June and December). In the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the winter solstice is the shortest.
Supermoon on the equinox
This year’s vernal equinox will be something special, as the full Moon of March—also the final supermoon of 2019—will fall on the same day. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the last time the full moon and the spring equinox occurred on the same day was on March 20, 1981. And because this full moon is a supermoon, it will also appear brighter and bigger than normal.
But this moon is also particularly fitting for the start of spring, as it’s called the Full Worm Moon. According to the Almanac, the moon got its name from Native Americans who named the full moons in order to track the seasons. In March, as spring arrives, the earth softens enough for worms to come out, signaling a new season, and with it some warmth.
The best time to view the moon is after moonrise, which varies by state. In New York, that’s 9:42 p.m. local time. On the other side of the country in Los Angeles, that’s 6:42 p.m. This is the last supermoon until March 9, 2020.