Monday, March 15, 2010

Equinox ≠ Equilux

Here's something I learned this week! The day in which daylight and nighttime are perfectly balanced at 12 hours each is not the equinox. The equinox is defined by the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the sun, not by the balance of daylight and nighttime. And at the equinox there are more than 12 hours of daylight, because it gets light out before the sun fully breaks the horizon. It's not obvious, but it makes sense when you read about it on Wikipedia.

The day where your hours are 12 light and 12 dark is called the equilux, and it varies by latitude. In Connecticut it's this Wednesday, although it'll certainly get second billing underneath St. Patrick's Day. Nonetheless: a very merry equilux to everyone! I'll be celebrating with evening margaritas, although that has more to do with it being my friend Julia's birthday.

I'm also excited by Daylight Saving Time, since it means it's once again acceptably light out when the workday ends. Or at least, it would be acceptably light out if it wasn't still overcast and raining like it was all weekend.

Tangentially related items of possible interest: Sunrise/Sunset tables from the U.S. Naval Observatory; Sunrise/Sunset YouTube from Fiddler on the Roof.


Blogger nate said...

I've read this and I keep thinking there must be some weighting mechanism for taking into account how much daylight you get. If I'm going to celebrate my Equilux I don't want to count the shitty, gloamy time after sundown when I'm just leaving work and the day already feels like it's over and goddammit why isn't it summer yet. Something like marking the day when the total amount of sunlight equals twelve hours times three-quarters the amount of sunlight at noon at the summer solstice. Or something.

In more practical terms I'm totally down with the daylight savings-related spring ahead, despite some residual jet lag from the New York visit this weekend and its lingering sleep-habit weirdness. Especially on days when I get to work early and leave around 4:30, with hours of usable daylight ahead of me. Usable for doing the dishes! But still! Doing them with the window open, and light coming through. It makes it feel like spring has truly sprung. Or Frühling ist frühgelungen as the Germans might say.* That and the tree pollen.

* Not really.

3/18/2010 9:48 PM  

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