I’m sure that many of you know that this past Wednesday was the Vernal Equinox marking the official start of spring. In parts of North Carolina, including on the Eagle’s Nest campus, daffodils are popping out of the ground, trees are blooming and bees are beginning to buzz from flower to flower in search of pollen and nectar. I find that this time of year when the days begin to get longer and the sun is warmer is met with joy, hope and excitement – especially for those of us who love the summer and the adventures (at camp and on Hante) that it promises.
But what is the Vernal Equinox anyway? Is it the day that brooms can stand on their own or that eggs can balance? While that may happen (did anyone try it?) in the Northern Hemisphere the Vernal Equinox is the period of year when the sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. This event usually occurs on March 20th or 21st. On the Equinox the Southern and Northern Hemispheres receive equal amounts of sun light and day and night are about equal in length. The days that started growing longer at the Winter Solstice will continue to grow longer until the Summer Solstice in June. We’ll have more hours of daylight to enjoy watching nature come alive after the dormant winter.
Did you also know that this year the Vernal Equinox coincided with the Super Worm Moon, known by astronomers as a Perigean full moon? This is the first times since 2000 and the last time before 2030 that these two events occurred simultaneously. A Perigean Moon occurs when a full moon reaches its closest point to the earth in its elliptical orbit making it appear larger and brighter. If you were out around 9:30 on Wednesday night and spied the moon I can imagine that you experienced a bit of awe, just as I did. According to folklore, the March moon is dubbed the “Worm Moon” because occurs in during the time of year when the earth begins to thaw and the earthworms begin to emerge.
So what does all of this mean and how does it affect us? I imagine that some people might question if it was a lucky day to buy a lottery ticket or if some other great opportunity might present itself on such a celestial event. For me, it offered another opportunity to experience the wonder and beauty of nature and to appreciate science. At Eagle’s Nest Camp we are fortunate to live on a campus that encompasses nearly 200 acres of land – most of which is in a conservation easement. We explore the woods, creeks and surrounding mountains and rivers daily. We hear that sounds of nature as we drift into sleep and before the sun rises the next morning. It’s easy to connect to the natural world all around us. That’s not as easy to do in other areas like cities whose lights can drown out the stars or have few trees. But I have found that we can always look to the sun and the moon to reconnect to the grandeur of nature. I hope that wherever you are you’ve had a chance to appreciate the coming of spring and the Super Moon that accompanied it.
By Paige Lester-Niles, Photo Credit Julee Nunley