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Here comes the Sun: Spring Equinox arrives today in the Northern Hemisphere

By Mindy Weisberger
March 20, 2017, 2:11:08 PM EDT

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Equinox Mar 20

This image of Earth was captured during the spring equinox in 2011 at 6:12 a.m. local time, by the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on the Meteosat-9 satellite from geosynchronous orbit. (Image/NASA)

In mid-March, snow and ice still frost the ground and winter's grip feels as strong as ever in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

But an annual celestial alignment between Earth and the sun known as the spring equinox, which occurred today (March 20) at 6:28 a.m. ET, announced that the seasons are shifting and spring is on the way.

Twice in a year, the Earth reaches a point during its annual journey around the sun when the Northern and Southern hemispheres — the two planetary zones bisected by the equator — receive the same amount of daylight, a phenomenon called an equinox, or "equal night" in Latin. In the Northern Hemisphere, what is known as the spring equinox also marks the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. The Northern Hemisphere's autumnal equinox — six months later, on Sept. 22 — heralds the coming of spring south of the equator.

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