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vernal equinox

noun
1.
See under equinox (def 1).
2.
Also called vernal point. the position of the sun at the time of the vernal equinox.
Origin
1525-1535
1525-35

equinox

[ee-kwuh-noks, ek-wuh-] /ˈi kwəˌnɒks, ˈɛk wə-/
noun
1.
the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth and occurring about March 21 (vernal equinox or spring equinox) and September 22 (autumnal equinox)
2.
either of the equinoctial points.
Origin
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin equinoxium, for Latin aequinoctium the time of equal days and nights (aequi- equi- + noct- (stem of nox) night + -ium -ium)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for vernal equinox
  • In which the sun rises earlier every day after the vernal equinox.
  • The ancients began the year, some from the autumnal, others from the vernal equinox.
  • The vernal equinox-one of two times each year when night and day are officially of equal length-is upon us.
  • The vernal equinox marks the day of balance, when day and night are the same length.
British Dictionary definitions for vernal equinox

vernal equinox

noun
1.
the time at which the sun crosses the plane of the equator towards the relevant hemisphere, making day and night of equal length. It occurs about March 21 in the N hemisphere (Sept 23 in the S hemisphere)
2.
  1. (astronomy) the point, lying in the constellation Pisces, at which the sun's ecliptic intersects the celestial equator
  2. the time at which this occurs as the sun travels south to north (March 21)

equinox

/ˈiːkwɪˌnɒks; ˈɛkwɪˌnɒks/
noun
1.
either of the two occasions, six months apart, when day and night are of equal length See vernal equinox, autumnal equinox
2.
another name for equinoctial point
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin equinoxium, changed from Latin aequinoctium, from aequi-equi- + nox night
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vernal equinox

equinox

n.

late 14c., from Old French equinoce (12c.) or directly from Medieval Latin equinoxium "equality of night (and day)," from Latin aequinoctium "the equinoxes," from aequus "equal" (see equal (adj.)) + nox (genitive noctis) "night" (see night). The Old English translation was efnniht. Related: Equinoctial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vernal equinox in Science
vernal equinox
  (vûr'nəl)   
See under equinox.
equinox
  (ē'kwə-nŏks')   
  1. Either of the two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun) crosses the celestial equator. ◇ The point at which the Sun's path crosses the celestial equator moving from south to north is called the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox marks the zero point in both the equatorial and ecliptic coordinate systems; horizontal angular distances (right ascension in the equatorial system and celestial longitude in the ecliptic system) are measured eastward from this point. The vernal equinox is also known as the first point of Aries because when first devised some 2,000 years ago this point occurred at the beginning of Aries in the zodiac. Because of the westward precession of the equinoxes, the vernal equinox is now located at the beginning of Pisces. ◇ The point at which the Sun's path crosses the celestial equator moving from north to south is called the autumnal equinox.

  2. Either of the two corresponding moments of the year when the Sun is directly above the Earth's equator. The vernal equinox occurs on March 20 or 21 and the autumnal equinox on September 22 or 23, marking the beginning of spring and autumn, respectively, in the Northern Hemisphere (and the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere). The days on which an equinox falls have about equal periods of sunlight and darkness. Compare solstice.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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vernal equinox in Culture
equinox [(ee-kwuh-noks, ek-wuh-noks)]

The twice yearly times when the lengths of day and night are equal. At equinox, the sun is directly over the Earth's equator. The vernal equinox occurs about March 22 and the autumnal equinox about September 21.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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