Equinox Fast Facts

Clouds are seen as the sun set behind the horizon in the sky from an airplane near Vienna on October 10, 2012

(CNN)Here's a look at the equinox.

The equinox occurs twice per year when the sun is directly above the Earth's equator and day and night are of equal length.


    March 20, 2016 - The vernal equinox begins at approximately 04:30 UT .

    September 22, 2016 - The autumnal equinox begins at approximately 14:21 UT.

    The vernal equinox occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on March 19, 20 or 21. It marks the beginning of spring.

    The autumnal equinox occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on September 22 or 23. It marks the beginning of fall.

    The equinox marks the two times each year when day and night are the same length in all parts of the world.

    An equinox is different from a solstice, where the sun hits its northernmost or southernmost position. Solstices mark the beginning of summer (June) and winter (December).

    History and Facts:
    The term equinox comes from the Latin word equinoxium, meaning "equality between day and night."

    Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

    The spring and fall equinoxes have played roles in a number of historical religious and cultural celebrations across the globe.