When I stumbled half-asleep into my bathroom this morning a little past 7 a.m., the Sun was just rising over the mountain ridge due East. It didn’t signal the Spring (Vernal) Equinox for 2018, but I did sleepily think about people gathered at Stonehenge to mark an ancient ceremony.

I still have time to celebrate that equinox moment because for the Northern Hemisphere it occurs at 12:15 PM ET today. It is not like an eclipse. There is nothing to see or feel. And my Paradelle neighbors are sure to point out that there is still a lot of snow on the ground and more predicted for this first day of spring.

The vernal equinox can happen on March 19, 20, or 21. It means spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. This astronomical spring begins today and will end in June. The illumination of Earth by the Sun is equal. The tilt of the Earth’s axis is now inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. More equality. The Sun is vertically above a point on the Equator.

Our ancient ancestors knew something was happening today. Eventually, they built devices and even places like Stonehenge to measure and mark changes in the Sun’s movements.

Many of them thought the Sun was moving closer to Earth, and so the Earth would become warmer. At least that is what those in the Northern Hemisphere observed.

They were wrong,but they were correct in marking that today was midway between the sun’s lowest path across the sky in winter and highest path across the sky in summer.

My own Stonehenge – and the way I taught my young sons –  is using the windows of my home. I now know where the Sun rises in the back of my home, and where it sets in the western windows. With my sons, we one year marked those places month by month and watched the Sun move North and then South in winter from one window in the corner of the family room to the patio doors.

Today the Sun rose in the true East, and this evening it will set true West.  Take note.

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