Dictionary.com Word FAQs
What is the difference between an equinox and a solstice?
Both of these terms refer to the path of the Sun throughout the year. The equinox is either of the two days or periods each year when the Sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length. The name equinox comes from Latin equinoxium, or 'equality between day and night'. The vernal (spring) equinox happens around March 20-21 and the autumnal equinox occurs around September 22-23 in the northern hemisphere (and vice-versa in the southern hemisphere). The solstice is one day when the Sun is at its northernmost point (Tropic of Cancer) and another day when the Sun is at its southernmost point (Tropic of Capricorn). The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere (also the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere) happens around June 21-22. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (also the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere) occurs around December 22. Latin solstitium translates to 'Sun standing still', which is what it appears to do.