Vernal Equinox – Welcome to astronomical spring


Vernal Equinox or spring equinox is occurring on this March 20th, 2018 at 16:15 UTC (21:45 IST). It marks the first day of spring (Vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

An equinox is the astronomical event when Sun crosses the celestial equator (extended plane of Earth’s equator), which means that Sun is exactly overhead at a point on the equator.

Twice each year, Sun comes exactly overhead on the equator and thus each year there are two equinox i.e. spring equinox and Autumn Equinox. Autumn equinox comes in the month of September.

The word equinox has derived from Latin word ‘aequinoctium’, aequus (equal) and nox (night). At equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet as the Northern and Southern hemisphere are equally illuminated.

This astronomical event is celebrated worldwide in various ways. Many culture around the world holds the feasts and celebrate festivals and holidays to mark the spring equinox.

Every year SPACE conducts ‘Project Paridhi’ on this day.

‘Project Paridhi’ is a flagship project of SPACE, to popularize hands on science. It is a hands on science activity which involves measuring the length of shadows cast by a vertical object (gnomon) as cast by the sun, to determine the local noon and result of this experiment is further used to calculate the circumference of Earth using simple calculations.

It is typically conducted on days of Equinoxes and Solstices and SPACE has successfully conducted ‘Project Paridhi’ at various heritage sites like Jantar Mantar, Qutub Minar etc. on the days of equinoxes and solstices.

So, let’s welcome astronomical spring with vernal equinox…

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