This is the day that makes everybody in the northern hemisphere happy. It is spring (vernal) equinox. That means the first day of spring, the day when daytime and nighttime are equal in length (thus “equi” and “nox” – night). It’s been happening in recent years on the 21st in North America, so some think that it always occurs on this day.
The fact is, the 20th is just as likely as the 21st. After all, the event is not tied to a date. It happens when the sun lines up with the equator. Since the earth is tilted as it goes around the sun, there are only two times during the year that this happens: once in spring and once in fall (the autumnal equinox).
The other astronomically-significant days on the calendar, the solstices, are when the earth is tilted at its maximum angle with respect to the sun, and so represent the longest (winter) and shortest (summer) days of the year. On solstices, I have had the habit of trying to do something awesome. As with my birthday, if I’m not working I try to get out and hike, ski or otherwise enjoy the outdoors. Climbing a mountain is a favorite.
I have never really thought of equinoxes in the same way. Maybe it’s time to change this. I thought I would look through my picture catalog over the last few years, searching by date taken, to find out if I had accidentally done something awesome on the vernal equinox.
It turns out I had, on the 21st of March in 2010. In western Guatemala, I climbed to the summit of Tajamulco, the highest mountain in Central America. We had camped not far below the summit the night before, and before sunrise we climbed the final 800 feet or so. The sunrise was spectacular. Hope you enjoy the photos. Remember to click on any you are interested in purchasing. They are copyrighted and not available for free download, sorry. Happy Equinox wherever you may be!