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What’s the Difference Between a Solstice and an Equinox?

Written by Saanchi Biyani, a grade 5 student.

Both have somehtirng to do with the earth’s relation to the Sun’s path. But, what do they mean?

By I Kid You Not , in Current Stories Did You Know Science , at June 5, 2021 Tags: , , ,

Written by Saanchi Biyani, a grade 5 student.

First, here’s what they both mean – and you’ll see the difference.

Solstice – this is either of the two times in a year when the Sun’s path is as far north or as far south from Earth’s Equator. This is marked by the longest and shortest days in the year (about 21 June and 22 December).

Equinox – either of the two times in a year when the Sun is right above the Equator and day and night are of equal length.

Have you ever wondered why is there more daylight in summers than in winters? You would have seen a lot of different kinds of seasons in a year – have you ever thought about why seasons change?

Have you ever thought if we have a signal for the change in seasons? To understand all this, one needs to understand the Earth’s orbit and how it functions.

Let me explain it further…

Earth’s axis is an imaginary line that runs between the north and south poles. The Earth takes one full rotation on its axis which takes 24 hours (which we call a day). While busy in turning daily circles, the Earth is also traveling around the Sun, which is known as Earth’s orbit. It takes 365 days, for Earth, to make one complete trip around the Sun, which, we define as a year.

The Earth is slightly tilted while it orbits around the Sun, which means, it is slightly pointed towards or away from the Sun. Depending on your location on Earth, there are times your half of the world, known as the hemisphere, is pointed toward the Sun, while, at other times, it is pointed away from the Sun. As the tilt of Earth’s axis points one’s hemisphere towards or away from the Sun, we experience the changing of the seasons. If it weren’t tilted, we wouldn’t have had seasons – only areas that were colder (near the poles) and warmer (near the Equator).

Solstice and Equinox mark the change in seasons. But do you know which represents what change? Read on..

The two solstices happen in June (20 or 21) and December (21 or 22).

June 21/22 is the longest day and 21/22 December is the shortest day in the year. These are the days when the Sun’s orbit is at the farthest point north or south from the Equator. In the Northern hemisphere, the June solstice marks the start of the summers (the North Pole is tilted closest to the Sun), while, December solstice marks the start of winter (the South Pole is tilted closest to the Sun).

In the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed.

The equinoxes happen in March and September. March 21 and September 23 are the days when the Sun is exactly above the Equator, resembling, making day and night having an equal length. March equinox marks the start of spring, while, September equinox marks the start of Autumn.

This is so good to learn. Isn’t it? In fact, I am a firm believer that 95 percent of things have a reason or logic attached to them. It is just 5 percent of the things that come into the category of ‘believe it or not’.

Have you ever wondered why there are only 52 cards in a deck? Why there are 4 suits?

There’s a logic for it.

The 52 cards represent the 52 weeks in a year. The 4 suits represent the 4 seasons in a year. Isn’t this interesting?

Read on…

The 12 faces in a card represent the 12 months, while, the 13 cards in one suit represent the 13 weeks in one season. The story is yet not complete. If you add all the digits (1 to 13) of the cards, and multiply by 4 (4 suits), and add 1 (one pack of cards), you will get 365 which is the number that represents the days in a year. Last but not the least, the red cards represent day, while, the black cards represent night – aren’t both equal in number – like an equinox!

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