Solstices and Equinoxes | The seasons are about to change

Solstices and Equinoxes | The seasons are about to change

 

Solstices and Equinoxes | The seasons are about to change

Solstices

At two points throughout the year, the tilt of the Earth’s axis reaches its maximum angle compared to the Sun, and begins to move back the other direction.  This usually happens around June 21st and December 21st.  These days are known as solstices.  On these solstices, the rays of the Sun shine directly on one of the two Tropics.  During the June Solstice the rays of the Sun shine directly on the Tropic of Cancer.  During the December Solstice the Sun’s rays shine on the Tropic of Capricorn.

The term solstice can also be used in a broader sense, as the date (day) when this occurs.  The day of the solstice is either the longest day of the year (in summer) or the shortest day of the year (in winter) for any place outside of the tropics.

Equinoxes

As the Earth moves around its orbit, it reaches two points during the year where the tilt of its axis causes it to be straight relative to the Sun. These days are known as equinoxes.  During these equinoxes the rays of the Sun shine directly on the equator.  This happens on approximately March 20th and September 22nd.

The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens.  The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.

Need a visual?

Here’s an awesome infographic from Our Amazing Planet that explains further (*note – dates are for 2012):

Solstices and equinoxes - Earth's seasons infographic

Source:OurAmazingPlanet

Dates and Times of the 2013-2014 Solstices and Equinoxes

Check out this nice little chart so you don’t miss the big days :

Seasons of 2013:
SPRING EQUINOX March 20, 7:02 A.M. EDT
SUMMER SOLSTICE June 21, 1:04 A.M. EDT
FALL EQUINOX September 22, 4:44 P.M. EDT
WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 12:11 P.M. EST
Seasons of 2014:
SPRING EQUINOX March 20, 12:57 P.M. EDT
SUMMER SOLSTICE June 21, 6:51 A.M. EDT
FALL EQUINOX September 22, 10:29 P.M. EDT
WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 6:03 P.M. EST

 A little video help…

To help explain more we found this great video by BrainPop –

Solstice and Equinox - BrainPop Video

 In it Tim & Moby talk all about solstices and equinoxes and how they signal the beginnings of new seasons.  Here’s the synopsis:

“Every season has a beginning–and those beginnings are the solstices and the equinoxes! In this BrainPOP movie, Tim and Moby identify the first days of spring, summer, fall, and winter. From the vernal equinox to the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice, you’ll follow the sun’s changing paths across the sky from one season to the next. Explore how the tilt of the earth’s axis leads to longer and shorter days, as well as some wacky effects at the equator and the poles. Learn where the words “equinox” and “solstice” actually come from, and see why the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have opposite seasons. Finally, discover why so many cultures around the world celebrate the solstices and equinoxes as holidays!”

We feel BrainPop does a great job of presenting the many interesting and entertaining facets of the solstices and equinoxes.  We hope you enjoy the video as much as we do!  Why not let us know what you think in the comment section below?

Solstices and Equinoxes | The seasons are about to change

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