vernal equinox

“Time And Tide Wait For No Man.”

/////

That quote is from Goeffrey Chaucer and it has been used in many different situations. This time it has meaning for two situations. If you pay attention to your calendar you probably noticed that the Vernal Equinox is fast approaching and so is the changeover to Daylight Saving Time. As a matter of fact both events occur on the same day March 14, 2021. The Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Vernal Equinox3
Vernal Equinox3 | Image by earthsky.org

We all remember being taught about Equinox and Solstice events in school, but how many of us actually remember the details today? That’s why I am going to explain it in detail now.

Here is the definition of the Vernal Equinox according to an article in Astronomy Essentials by Deborah Byrd posted on earth sky.com: The Vernal Equinox “signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the special moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north.” Equinox translates as “equal night” which means the length of day and night is nearly equal all over the world during the equinox.

Vernal Equinox2
Vernal Equinox2 | Image by heimhenge.com

It all has to do with the earth’s axis. That’s the reason for the seasons. As you might remember the earth’s axis is tilted and not parallel to the earth’s orbit. According to the meteorology text book The Atmosphere by Anthes, Panofsky, Cahir, and Rango “There is an angle between the plane of the equator and the plane of the earth’s orbit (also called the ecliptic). This angle, which has the impressive name obliquity of the ecliptic, is now 23 1/2 degrees.” “As the earth revolves about the sun, it’s axis points in the same direction in space.”

Solar Rays
SolarRays | Image by lpi.usra.edu

Both the northern and southern hemispheres get exactly the same amount of sunshine during the two equinoxes, March 20-21 and September 22-23. The authors explain that over tens of thousands of years this angle has changed, and, as a result, the severity of the seasons has also changed. The seasons are less harsh when the angle is small and conversely they are more harsh when the angle is large. Over the last 100,000 years or so the angle has varied between 22 and 25 degrees because the earth actually rocks back and forth a bit as it continues it’s march around the sun.

Solar Rays At Equator
Direct Solar Rays At Equator | Image by Annenberg Learner

At the Vernal Equinox the rays of the sun are directed straight at the equator and then move northward continuing the spring warming and then bringing on summer, the warmest time of the year.

Sun Ray Angles
Solar Ray Angles | Image by physics.weber.edu

One would think that the direct straight-line rays of the sun when the distance between the earth and the sun are at their closest would make the area under them see the warmest time of the year but that is not the case. There is a space of about 3 months between the Vernal Equinox and the warmest days of summer.

Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time Clock | Image by 1011now.com

Daylight Saving Time is when we “Spring Forward” by turning our clocks ahead by one hour at 2:00 am Sunday March 14th or at bedtime Saturday night if you are not a stickler for being perfectly accurate and don’t want to stay up until 2:00 am to change your clocks. Most of the newer appliances and electronic devices make the change automatically, but the older models must be changed manually which can be a pain. The authorities tell us that we should also check our smoke alarms, Carbon Monoxide detectors, and Radon detectors to make sure they are in working order. Replace batteries if necessary.

Oregon lawmakers passed a bill in June 2019 to keep Oregon on Daylight Saving Time all year long. The Governor signed the bill one week later, but we still went back to Standard Time November 1, 2020. It is possible that we will have made that changeover for the last time, but we’ll have to wait for an official announcement that the change is really final.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

“To Every Thing There Is A Season.”

/////

That biblical quote is from Ecclesiastes and the words were even put to music in a popular song. We have been lucky this summer to have fewer wildfires and as a result no major outbreaks of smoke to deal with. It’s hard to believe, but one of the markers to end summer was the celebration of Labor Day. Schools are back in session and the  official end of Summer the Autumnal Equinox occurs at 12:50 AM PDT next Monday September 23rd.  It marks the beginning of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

We all remember being taught about Equinox and Solstice events in school, but it is easy to get them confused. That’s why the details will be explained here and now.

Axis Tilt
Tilt Of Earth’s Axis | Image by timeanddate.com

Here is the definition of the Autumnal Equinox according to The Encyclopaedia Britannica: “The Autumnal equinox,  two moments in the year when the sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night are of equal length; also, either of the two points in the sky where the ecliptic (the Sun’s annual pathway) and the celestial equator intersect. In the Southern Hemisphere the equinox occurs on March 20 or 21, when the Sun moves north across the celestial equator. According to astronomical definition of the seasons the autumnal equinox also marks the beginning of Autumn, which lasts until the Winter solstice (December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere.)”

The 4 Seasons
Earth Seasonal Cycles | Image by Science of Cycles

It all has to do with the earth’s axis. That’s the reason for the seasons. As you might remember the earth’s axis is tilted and not parallel to the earth’s orbit. According to the meteorology text book The Atmosphere by Anthes, Panofsky, Cahir, and Rango “There is an angle between the plane of the equator and the plane of the earth’s orbit (also called the ecliptic). This angle, which has the impressive name obliquity of the ecliptic, is now 23 1/2 degrees.” “As the earth revolves about the sun, it’s axis points in the same direction in space.”

Both the northern and southern hemispheres get exactly the same amount of sunshine during the two equinoxes, March 20-21 and September 22-23. The authors explain that over tens of thousands of years this angle has changed, and, as a result, the severity of the seasons has also changed. The seasons are less harsh when the angle is small and conversely they are more harsh when the angle is large. Over the last 100,000 years or so the angle has varied between 22 and 25 degrees because the earth actually rocks back and forth a bit as it continues it’s march around the sun.

Solar Rays
SolarRays | Image by lpi.usra.edu

At the Autumnal Equinox the rays of the sun are directed straight at the equator and then move southward continuing the fall cooling and then bringing on winter, the coldest time of the year. In the southern hemisphere it is the start of Spring.

One would think that the direct straight-line rays of the sun when the distance between the earth and the sun are at their closest would make the area under them see the warmest time of the year but that is not the case. There is a space of about 3 months between the Vernal Equinox and the warmest days of Summer and the same is true for the Autumnal Equinox with the coldest days of Winter coming about three months later.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

It Happened Last Year And It’s Happening Again.

/////

Each year we mark events that recur every year like birthdays, anniversaries, income tax day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years Day. The event I am referring to comes around at roughly the same time each year and is celebrated by people all over the world. What could it be? We’ve already moved our clocks ahead as the Spring Forward rule was followed so that’s not it. If you pay attention to your calendar you probably noticed that the Vernal Equinox is fast approaching. It marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it falls on Monday March 20th at 3:29 AM Pacific Daylight Time.

Vernal Equinox3
Vernal Equinox3 | Image by earthsky.org

We all remember being taught about Equinox and Solstice events in school, but how many of us actually remember the details today? That’s why I am going to explain it in detail now.

Here is the definition of the Vernal Equinox according to an article in Astronomy Essentials by Deborah Byrd posted on earth sky.com: The Vernal Equinox “signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the special moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north.” Equinox translates as “equal night” which means the length of day and night is nearly equal all over the world during the equinox.

Vernal Equinox2
Vernal Equinox2 | Image by heimhenge.com

It all has to do with the earth’s axis. That’s the reason for the seasons. As you might remember the earth’s axis is tilted and not parallel to the earth’s orbit. According to the meteorology text book The Atmosphere by Anthes, Panofsky, Cahir, and Rango “There is an angle between the plane of the equator and the plane of the earth’s orbit (also called the ecliptic). This angle, which has the impressive name obliquity of the ecliptic, is now 23 1/2 degrees.” “As the earth revolves about the sun, it’s axis points in the same direction in space.”

Solar Rays
SolarRays | Image by lpi.usra.edu

Both the northern and southern hemispheres get exactly the same amount of sunshine during the two equinoxes, March 20-21 and September 22-23. The authors explain that over tens of thousands of years this angle has changed, and, as a result, the severity of the seasons has also changed. The seasons are less harsh when the angle is small and conversely they are more harsh when the angle is large. Over the last 100,000 years or so the angle has varied between 22 and 25 degrees because the earth actually rocks back and forth a bit as it continues it’s march around the sun.

Solar Rays At Equator
Direct Solar Rays At Equator | Image by Annenberg Learner

At the Vernal Equinox the rays of the sun are directed straight at the equator and then move northward continuing the spring warming and then bringing on summer, the warmest time of the year.

Sun Ray Angles
Solar Ray Angles | Image by physics.weber.edu

One would think that the direct straight-line rays of the sun when the distance between the earth and the sun are at their closest would make the area under them see the warmest time of the year but that is not the case. There is a space of about 3 months between the Vernal Equinox and the warmest days of summer.

With the below normal temperatures we have seen this winter most people yearn for the sunshine and warmer temperatures that will increase both as the season of spring gets under way.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

We Missed “The Ring Of Fire.”

/////

“The Ring of Fire” I am referring to isn’t the song written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore and made famous by her husband Johnny Cash in 1963 nor the “Ring of Fire” composed of 452 volcanoes surrounding the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

Total Eclipse
Satellite View “Ring Of Fire” Around Eclipsed Sun | Photo by European Space Agency’s Proba-2 Satellite

This “Ring of Fire” is the appearance of the sun’s corona when the moon moves between the Earth and the Sun producing a total solar eclipse.

Three things occurred on Friday March 20th: The Vernal Equinox occurred at 3:45 PM PDT beginning the Spring season. There was a total eclipse of the sun and there was a super moon at the same time. Did you see the eclipse? Do you know anyone who did? Me neither. That’s because it wasn’t visible anywhere in the United States.

A solar eclipse as defined in Wikipedia occurs when “the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring the image of the Sun from a viewer on Earth.” The total eclipse was visible for the longest time, 2 minutes and 40 seconds, off the coast of the Faroe Islands, an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean and Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The eclipse was seen in Europe, where the cloud cover allowed, and the next total solar eclipse to be seen there won’t be until August 12, 2026.

Watching Eclipse
Protective Glasses Worn In The UK | Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty

In the UK the eclipse was covered by clouds in some areas, particularly London, while others had a spectacular view. Even the Duke of York complained about the dense cloud cover over Buckingham Palace. Thousands of people all over Europe did get to witness the eclipse and were in awe.

Total Eclipse Path
Path Of Total Solar Eclipse | Image by timeanddate.com

Back to the Pacific Northwest where there was no chance to see any part of the eclipse. It started on the other side of the earth at 12:41 AM PDT, totality was at 2:45 AM PDT, and it ended at 4:50 AM PDT. Sunrise for Eugene on March 20th was 7:16 AM PDT so even if the skies were clear here there would have been no chance to see a solar eclipse well before our sunrise.

Since we missed seeing the total eclipse here is a video from Space Weather.com that shows it as a time lapse movie. The next total solar eclipse that will be visible in the US and particularly the Pacific Northwest won’t be until August 21, 2017.

Seasons
Seasons, Vernal Equinox | Image by astrobob.areavoices.com

Earlier I mentioned that two other events occurred on March 20, 2015. That day was also the Vernal Equinox at 3:45 PM PDT which ends the season of Winter and begins the season of Spring. It is explained by the position of planet Earth in relationship to the Sun.

Supermoon
“Supermoon” | Image by www.kuriositas.com

The third occurrence is the super moon. What’s that? A super moon is defined as the time when the moon is in perigee. That means when once per month the moon is at its closest point to Earth and when on the horizon looks much larger than normal. There was one problem above and beyond the cloud cover that could obscure your view. That was the fact that it was the new moon when the the sphere is not visible from Earth.

So we ended up with one out of three. The Vernal Equinox did begin at 3:45 PM PDT on Friday March 20th and there was nothing visual to mark that event. The two visual events (total solar eclipse and super moon) were not visible so we had to rely on pictures or videos from other locations around the world to at least let us get a peek at the solar eclipse. It looks like we’ll just have to wait for the next one and hope for the best.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected]

March 16 – Early Evening Update

//

Updates early tonight, EDN’s down at HTCC:

Tim Chuey Weather
Reminder: The Vernal Equinox occurs at 4:21 PM Pacific Daylight Time next Sunday March 20th. Rain in the forecast.
Police investigate gunshots, Corvallis house damaged
Police in Corvallis are investigating a series of gunshots that damaged a rooming house.
Oregon House approves legal fix for home brewers
Its official, Oregon lawmakers have unanimously endorsed a bill to allow home brewers and amateur winemakers to share their creations.
Oregon officials say no radiation risk from Japan
Oregon officials say there is no health risk to the state from radiation released by a damaged nuclear plant in Japan.
Oregon turns into a detour for ‘the Horse Logger’
Lee “the Horse Logger” Crafton passed through the in October. He didn’t get far, just down the road a piece to the Pleasant Hill area south of Eugene.
Murder trial continues.
The defense grilled the lead detective of the Stephanie Condon case at the aggravated murder trial of Dale Hill Tuesday morning.