The Observant Astronomer

The passing scene as observed by an observant Jew, who daylights as an astronomer.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Second Day of Spring

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox, at 2005 March 20, 12:34 PM GMT to be precise. Thus today is the second day of spring. Or is it?

Leave aside the hemispherecentricity of calling this the second day of spring and let us include the antipodelians by calling it the second day of autumn for those south of the equator. The characterization is still wrong. The designation of March 21st (roughly) as the first day of spring, 21 June the first day of summer, 21 Sept the first of fall, and 21 Dec the first of winter reflect not just a northern viewpoint, but a viewpoint limited to quite limited geographical regions. Are there actually places where the seasons are (roughly) the same length? What of places that don't have these four seasons at all. What of places where there are only two seasons, hot and dry vs. cold and wet, for example. If 21 June is the beginning of summer, why are there traditions calling it Midsummer Day? Your challenge for today. Assess these canonical seasonal dates for your location and comment below on how well they hold up. Can we locate a place where they really apply?


Blogger Amy said...

Yet another time when generalizations manage to make the whole world wrong. :)

10:54 p.m., March 21, 2005  

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