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Spring equinox 2017: Six things about the beginning of spring
on March 20, 2017 at 6:12 AM, updated March 20, 2017 at 9:00 PM
It's now safe to say that spring is here.
Meteorological spring began March 1. And astronomical spring began today, March 20, 2017, with the vernal equinox.
There are two equinoxes each year, one in the spring and the other in the fall. The fall equinox will be on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. The equinoxes nearly always fall within the same three-day period.
Here are a few things unique to the equinox:
1. It falls at the same instant around the globe.
The moment of the vernal or spring equinox was today at 5:29 a.m. CDT, or 10:29 UTC (known as Coordinated Universal Time).
That marks the moment when the sun crossed the equator and its axis was tilted neither toward or away from the sun.
2. The spring equinox always falls on March 19, 20, or 21.
It most often will come on the 19th or 20th. The next time it will fall on March 21st will be 2101. (The last time was in 2007.)
Click here for a list of equinox dates.>(NASA image)
3. Day and night are almost equal on equinox days. But not quite.
"Equinox" means "equal night," but that isn't literally true today except for on the equator. March 16 was actually the day when day and night were the closest to equal. That's also known as the "equilux."
The day length varies depending on latitude.
For example, today there will be 12 hours, eight minutes and 28 seconds of day length in Birmingham, 12:08:37 in Huntsville and 12:08:10 in Mobile.
4. The sun rises due east and sets due west today no matter where you are.
At the equinoxes the sun appears overhead at noon as seen from the equator, according to EarthSky.org, and the equator intersects the horizon at points due east and west.
That's why the equinoxes make good times to find due east or west from your house or other landmark.
5. Your shadow may play tricks on you.
During the equinox, the Earth tilts on its axis, which could change the length of a person's shadow and potentially, at noon under direct sunlight, a person won't cast a shadow at all, according to AccuWeather.
6. Standing an egg on its end only on the equinox is a myth.
Sometimes at equinox times stories will circulate that eggs can be balanced on their ends solely on this day. It's not true -- the equinox has no bearing on egg stability, according to NASA.
In fact, according to information from the agency, eggs have small bumps on their shells that allow them to balance on the their ends any day of the year with a steady hand and a little patience.
[BELOW: SIGNS OF SPRING IN ALABAMA]