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Space and Physics

Amazing Planetary Alignment Coincides With Spring Equinox

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Rachael Funnell

Social Editor and Staff Writer

clockMar 20 2020, 17:44 UTC

Erkki Makkonen/Shutterstock

In a welcome spell of good news, spring is arriving at the earliest date in 124 years and it’s got nothing to do with climate change. Today marks a fortuitous shift in our solar system, bringing the vernal equinox, also known as the spring equinox, to the Northern Hemisphere. This astronomical event means, for one day, daylight will last as long as the night. Newsfeeds might be gloomy, but for the Northern Hemisphere at least, the outdoors soon won’t be!

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The effect of the equinox in balancing the length of daytime and nighttime can be observed in the below video, which shows what this occurrence looks like from space.

The vernal equinox is the beginning of the astronomical spring, which focuses on movements in the solar system that are integral to timekeeping. Nowadays, we have smartphones and watches to keep us on schedule, but for early farmers and societies marking annual celebrations, the skies and constellations were vital for turning up to work on time.

However, phone or no phone, this year's spring equinox for the Northern Hemisphere also brings with it a magnificent celestial show as three planets buddy up with the moon to the delight of astronomers. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and a crescent moon will appear to be close to each other in the southeastern sky, and as the month unfolds, they will appear to get closer and closer together.

In the early evening, Venus will be visible towards the west, giving it the appearance of a bright star. Once night has fallen, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, will be south of the shining planet. You'll also be able to spot Orion close by, which will soon no longer be visible at night. Mercury will also be making an appearance in peeking above the horizon at sunset, though it’s likely its proximity to the Sun will make it difficult to spot. But please, don’t try to spot it with a telescope or else this might happen.

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Worldwide social isolation can make day-to-day life a little bland, so it's important to remember that astonishing sights can be spotted from your bedroom window if the time is right. If the ongoing pandemic is getting you down, these 15 good news stories might help lift the COVID-19 sadness. 


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