The March equinox is when the days and nights are of equal length as the days get longer and the nights get shorter in the northern hemisphere and vice versa in the southern hemisphere. This change in the angle of the sun is the result of the earth’s orbit, which causes its tilting axis to point in a different direction. And it means that spring is starting in the northern hemisphere and fall is starting in the southern hemisphere. In 2017, the vernal equinox falls on Monday, March 20th.
Learn more about how the earth’s orbit and axis tilt work in WorldView Software’s World Geography Chapter 2: The Earth. For example, you can use this graphic (with introduction and questions) to spark class discussion, or as a starting point for a demonstration:
The equinoxes (like the solstices) are events that have huge impacts on life on earth (think: growing food). And given that importance, they’ve had a tremendous impact on the development of methods to keep track of and predict their occurrence: mathematics. For example, it’s thought that Stonehenge’s purpose is tracking solar and lunar movements:
WorldView Software’s World History A also has a terrific series of tutorials explaining how mathematics based on observance of astronomical phenomena developed in different civilizations:
- Ancient Chinese Science, Technology, and Mathematics
- Ancient Indian Science and Mathematics
- Greek Accomplishments in Science, Technology, and Mathematics
- Math and Technology in the River Valley Civilizations
- Science, Mathematics, and Technology in the Islamic Caliphates
- Technical Trends in Pre-Columbian Latin America
Use the equinox as a springboard into history!
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