Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Spring Equinox 2023

Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox, 2015
Stonehenge Stone Circle News
Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox, 2015

The sun has some power these days. And it will come as no surprise to some of you that the spring equinox and the first day of spring is coming up on Monday, March 20. That day, and during the fall equinox in September, the sun will pass directly overhead on the equator.

Our changing seasons are not due to changes in the distance between the earth and the sun. It is due to changes in the directness of the sun’s rays on the earth.

If the earth’s rotation was perpendicular to the plane of its orbit, we wouldn’t have much if any variation in seasons. But as most of us learned in school, the earth is tilted on its axis by 23 ½ degrees. As a result, variations in the directness of the sunlight hitting the earth change throughout the year, giving us the seasonality here in temperate zones. While we in the northern hemisphere are celebrating the first day of spring, it is the first day of fall in the southern hemisphere, and perhaps a little less celebrated.

More Hours of Sunlight

As the name implies, the equinox provides nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. And the days will continue to lengthen until the summer solstice on June 21. For example, here are a few sunrise/sunset times in Bismarck:

Sunrise and Sunset times for Bismarck, North Dakota. March 20 Sunrise 7:44am, Sunset 7:56pm. April 20 Sunrise 6:44am, Sunset 8:39pm. June 21 Sunrise 5:48am, Sunset 9:41pm.

Equinox Celebrations

Equinoxes and solstices may occur with little fanfare these days, but for much of human history they were major benchmarks of the year. Some of the better-known structures around the world built to mark these events include Stonehenge in Great Britain, Newgrange in Ireland, Carnac in France, and Chichen Itza in Mexico.

There is also a modern-day medicine wheel in Valley City, and Turtle Mountain has Mystical Horizons, a “modern Stonehenge.”

There will probably be a few bumps in the road, but spring is on its way. So, get ready to enjoy some warmer and longer days over the next few months.

Further reading on the spring equinox

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of "Natural North Dakota"and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, Chuck has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror, and his “The Naturalist” columns appear in several other weekly North Dakota newspapers.
Related Content