When Is The Spring Equinox 2024? When astronomical and meteorological spring starts and ends

It may sound straighforward, but when spring starts depends on what system you are using.
Spring has sprung.Spring has sprung.
Spring has sprung.

Christmas and the New Year are now a distant memory, the temperature finally seems to be rising, and new life is starting to emerge.

A long, dark winter is thankfully coming to an end - but when does spring officially start? Well, there are two correct but different answers to that question.

Here are both.

Astronomical Spring

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Our seasons are a result of the Earth's axis and orbit around the sun - and in particular the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth's rotational axis.

Winter ends - and spring begins - at the March equinox. Also known as the vernal equinox, it's when the sun crosses the celestial equator in a northerly direction bringing warmer weather to the northern hemisphere and colder conditions to the southerm half of the globe.

Because the the Earth doesn't take exactly a year to go around the sun (it takes about 365.25 days), and because of Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun, the date of equinox changes slightly from year to year.

In 2024 the Soring Equinox is on Wednesday, March 20 (at 3.06am to be specific), and astronomical spring ends on Friday, June 21.

Meteorological winter

When the majority of people think about the seasons they are thinking about the meteorological version.

It was dreamed up by scientists according to "sensible weather patterns" in order to keep records - in other words spring falls when temperatures start to rise after winter.

To make it even easier to observe conditions and make forcasts, the seasons are broken down into four equally-long periods of time using the Gregorian calendar, meaning each season is exactly three months. The issue of Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun is handled by having a leap year every four years, when an extra day is added to February. That's a day more winter that we will experience in 2024.

So meteorological spring 2024 begins - as it always does - on March 1 and ends on May 31.

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