Vernal equinox sunset. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the moment in time when the Sun stands directly above the equator while crossing from the south to the north is called vernal equinox (also known as spring equinox
, March equinox
or northward equinox). It is the moment winter
ends and spring
begins in the Northern Hemisphere (where nearly 90% of the world's population live). For the Southern Hemisphere, it is the autumn equinox
) as it is the moment summer
ends and autumn
In the Northern Hemisphere the vernal equinox occurs every year between March 19 and March 21
. The dates given on this page are based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which for practical purposes is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT - the time zone of the United Kingdom). While the vernal equinox occurs at the same moment in time all over the world, the date and local time differ from place to place depending on the year and a location's time zone. For locations that are ahead of UTC (further east) it may fall on the day after, and for locations that are behind UTC (further west) it may fall on the day before. To find out the exact date and time of the vernal equinox 2021 in your area use this seasons calculator
The vernal equinox is one of four days (two equinoxes and two solstices) throughout the year that mark the beginning of a new season. The other days are the summer solstice
(beginning of summer), the autumn equinox (beginning of autumn) and the winter solstice
(beginning of winter).
In a non-leap year, the moment of the vernal equinox is about 5 hours 49 minutes after
that moment in the previous year (in UTC), and in a leap year
it is about 18 hours 11 minutes before
that moment in the previous year. In this way the time of the vernal equinox constantly shifts back and forth so it always stays on or around March 20.
The word "equinox" is derived from Latin and means "equal night". On the day of an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal length all over the world, as the Earth's rotational axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the Sun. At all other times the length of day and night will be different.
The date of the vernal equinox is significant in Christianity as it is important for the calculation of Easter
. As decreed by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. However, by convention Christian churches have fixed the ecclesiastical date to March 21 and base all calculations on this date even if the astronomical date differs.
in Europe starts a few days after the vernal equinox.
Overview: seasons, equinoxes and solstices
Dates shown apply to the Northern Hemisphere and are based on UTC (GMT)
2021 calendar as templates for
Word, Excel and PDF
A selection of calendar templates for 2021 in landscape and portrait orientation and with US federal holidays, suitable for a variety of applications.