Spring equinox 2016

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The March equinox happened on 20 March at 04:30 UTC.

Date & Time
20 March 2016 04:42 UTC and 12:00 UTC
Natural Colour RGB, Dust RGB

By Jose Prieto (EUMETSAT)

This event in 2016 continues its shift towards an earlier time in our official calendar on leap years. It is now the earliest in the year since 1896. This trend will only be broken in 2100, because it will not be a leap year, thus delaying its occurrence by almost one day.

Equinox literally means 'equal night' (equi - equal and nox - night), basically the date of equal length of night and day. The actual length of daylight on 20 March is about ten minutes longer than 12 hours, due to atmospheric refraction. In the Northern Hemisphere it's known as the Vernal (Spring) equinox and it's the Autumnal (Fall) equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north, so it falls perpendicular on the Earth's equator, as can be noticed in the strong sun glint on the Indian Ocean in the Natural Colour RGB at 04:30 UTC (Figure 1).

Image comparison
Natural RGB Image from 20 March 04:30 UTC Dust RGB Image from 20 March 04:30 UTC
Figure 1: Comparison of the Meteosat-10 images on solar and infrared channels at the time of the equinox. The solar image is largely affected by sunglint, but it still allows to spot large areas of snow in Europe, where winter weather conditions still prevail in this spring. The infrared composite (Dust RGB) completes the weather picture under Meteosat.

See also:

Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB, 20 March 12:00 UTC
Himawari-8 Geocolour, 20 March 04:30 UTC (Source: CIRA)
GOES-15 Visible, 20 March 19:30 UTC (CIMSS Blog)
The first day of spring. The Vernal Equinox: Everything you need to know (The Telegraph)

Previous equinox case studies

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