September 19, 2018

Astro-event of the Week, March 16th-22nd, 2009: The Spring Equinox.

This week’s astro-event is an abstract meeting of the ecliptic and the equator; the spring, or vernal equinox, occurs on Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 07:44 EDT. This is an interesting time to watch the true rising and setting positions of the Sun, as they are directly east and west, respectively, for observers world wide.

Nights and days are now roughly equal, as the northern hemisphere begins spring and the southern starts fall. This is also a good date to check out any local Stonehenge-like alignments; is the Sun rising at the end of your street? Does that lawn gnome align with the setting Sun? The observations might be goofy, but fun…just don’t get sucked in to the yearly egg-balancing flurry that’s bound to e-circulate!

The astro-term of the week is Platonic Year. Also known as a Great Year or Equinoctial Cycle, this is a period required for our friend, the Precession of the Equinoxes, to cause the seasonal points to rotate once around the ecliptic, about 25,700 years. The rate varies and the period is currently decreasing due to a slight acceleration of the precession to a current value of about 50″ arc seconds per year. The spring equinox currently occurs in the constellation Pisces, and will do so until the intersection of the ascending node of the Sun on the ecliptic and the celestial equator moves to the constellation Aquarius about 573 years (give or take a decade) from now. the significance of this new Age of Aquarius? Well, we won’t see the constellation Aquarius due to its position behind the Sun around those far off spring time months…we might also have to move the lawn gnome. Will we still be blogging? Stay tuned!

 

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