ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – We rung in spring yesterday in style with above average temperatures and sunshine! The first day of spring is interchangeable with the term “vernal equinox”. But what exactly does this mean? The vernal equinox marks when the Sun’s rays are directly over the Equator. This gives every spot on Earth the same amount of daylight, roughly 12 hours. The Sun’s rays are moving northward and heading towards the Summer Solstice.
The Summer Solstice marks the first day of Summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer. This is when daylight is at its longest for us here in New York. The Arctic Circle is lit for 24 hours and the Antarctic Circle is in complete darkness during this time. After the Summer Solstice the days begin to get shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and longer in the Southern Hemisphere.
This continues and eventually reaches the Autumnal Equinox, or the first day of Fall. This is similar to the Vernal Equinox where daylight is consistent across the entire Earth at about 12 hours at a given location. However, the Sun is moving in the opposite direction. Days are becoming shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and longer in the Southern Hemisphere.
This continues until we reach the Winter Solstice. This is the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year for us in the Northern Hemisphere. Daylight is nonexistent in the Arctic Circle and days are 24 hours long in the Antarctic Circle. The cycle then repeats itself and that is how we get four seasons up here each year!