The Spring Equinox is the day that the sun shines directly on the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox happens in March, to signify the start of the spring season. On this day, day and night are almost the same length, 12 hours, all over the world.
There are four tasks in this lesson. Complete task 1-3 in order, and task 4 is a short quiz to test your knowledge.
Task 1- Read about the Spring Equinox:
The Spring Equinox is the day that the sun shines directly on the Earth's equator. The Earth's equator is an imaginary line around the middle of our planet. It is halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole. The word "equinox" comes from the Latin word for "equal night."On this day, day and night are almost the same length, 12 hours, all over the world. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox happens in March, to signify the start of the spring season.
Seasons are not the same all around the world. In the United States, the beginning of spring is in March, which is why we call the March Equinox the Spring Equinox. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, countries like Brazil, South Africa, and Australia will be celebrating the Autumn or Fall Equinox in March. Their seasons are the opposite of ours. In the Southern Hemisphere, they experience autumn when we experience spring. They experience winter while we experience summer.
In the photo below you can see a drawing of how the Earth rotates around the sun throughout the year. Notice that during the March and September equinox, the Earth is at the same tilt. That is what gives us almost equal nights and days. However during the December solstice, the Earth is tilted so the Southern Hemisphere is closer to the sun. That is when the Southern Hemisphere experiences their longest day of the year in summer. What season would we in the United States be experiencing in December? Would it be a short or long day?
Task 2 - Learn About an Equinox Celebration:
Many cultures around the world celebrate the beginning of spring. There is probably no equinox celebration more famous than the celebration of Kukulkan, the Snake of Sunlight, at Chichen Itza, Mexico. Chichen Itza is a very old Mayan city, whose ruins are still very much intact. The main pyramid, El Castillo, was a place of great importance for the Mayans. Every equinox, the sun casts its light on the pyramid in an exact way. A snake made of sunlight seems to appear along the steps.
Take a look at the photo below. On the left side of the pyramid, you'll see the sunlight appears in a wavy pattern, and at the bottom of the steps there is a stone snake head. This is the Snake of Sunlight. Many people gather twice each year for the spring equinox and fall equinox to witness the Snake of Sunlight appear and celebrate the change of seasons.
The Mayan civilization was very advanced and had calculated the exact angle of the sun during the equinox. They also had very accurate calendars that helped them to do this. Below is a video of the snake appearing on El Castillo due to exact alignment of the sun and the pyramid.
Task 3 - Celebrate Spring with Color:
In the link below you'll find several free spring coloring pages. Spring means the arrival of flowers, more sunlight, and warmer days! What better way to welcome it than coloring with lots of bright colors? Ask parent or guardian to download your favorite coloring page and print it if you are able.
Coloring pages link: http://www.doodle-art-alley.com/spring-coloring-pages.html
Task 4 - Test Your Knowledge:
Click below to test your Spring Equinox Knowledge!