First Day of Spring 2011

The first day of spring, commonly known as the spring equinox, occurs this year on March 20, 2011.

The spring equinox officially occurs at 23:31 UTC.

The equinox occurs twice each year, when the center of the sun is in the same place as the axis of the earth. On this day, the length of day and night are roughly the same – 12 hours each.

In the northern hemisphere, the spring equinox marks the traditional passage of seasons from winter to spring.

The spring equinox is also known as the vernal equinox, from the Latin for “spring” and “equal night.”

There are many cultural traditions associated with the first day of spring, including the religious celebration of Ostara. Christian churches typically celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon, on or after the first day of spring.  Easter Sunday occurs this year on April 24, 2011.

The first day of spring 2011 falls one day after the full moon on March 19, 2011.

The Greek mathematician and astronomer Hipparchus is widely thought to have discovered the equinoxes.

The fall equinox (a.k.a. autumnal equinox) takes place on September 23, 2011, at 9:04 UTC.

Full Moon March 2011

The third full moon of 2011 will take place March 19, 2011, at 18:10 (Universal Time).

It falls just one day before the 2011 Spring Solstice on March 20, 2011, generally observed as the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.

This late winter moon goes by other names as well:

  • Lenten Moon
  • Worm Moon
  • Crow Moon
  • Sugar Moon
  • Death Moon
  • Chaste Moon

A full moon happens when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, when the moon appears to be fully round.

The next full moon occurs in April 18, 2011, at 2:44 (Universal Time).

Solar Flare and Northern Lights Tonight February 17th

Solar flares February 17 2011

Massive solar flares erupting for nearly a week could cause spectacular aurora tonight, February 17th, 2011, and through the weekend.  As a result, Northern Lights could be visible as far south in the U.S. as Washington, DC.

According to authorities, the solar flares are already causing communications disruptions in China.  The flares effected short-wave radio communications in southern China.

Scientists are calling it the strongest flare in four years. The flares are being released from a sunspot more than 62,000 miles across, or eight times the width of the earth.

X-class flares can cause radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.

A major solar disruption in 1973 left six million people in the dark in the east central part of the province of Quebec, Canada.

If you live in northern regions and have a clear night, you may want to grab a lawnchair and keep and stay up for the show.

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