National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

For a listing of the dates and times of solstices and equinoxes through 2025, page down.
 

The Equinoxes (Vernal & Autumnal)

There are only two times of the year when the Earth's axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, resulting in a "nearly" equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes. These events are referred to as Equinoxes.The word equinox is derived from two Latin words - aequus (equal) and nox (night). At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon on these two equinoxes. The "nearly" equal hours of day and night is due to refraction of sunlight or a bending of the light's rays that causes the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below the horizon. Additionally, the days become a little longer at the higher latitudes (those at a distance from the equator) because it takes the sun longer to rise and set. Therefore, on the equinox and for several days before and after the equinox, the length of day will range from about 12 hours and six and one-half minutes at the equator, to 12 hours and 8 minutes at 30 degrees latitude, to 12 hours and 16 minutes at 60 degrees latitude.
 

The Solstices (Summer & Winter)

The summer solstice occurs at the moment the earth's tilt toward from the sun is at a maximum. Therefore, on the day of the summer solstice, the sun appears at its highest elevation with a noontime position that changes very little for several days before and after the summer solstice. The summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, which is located at 23.5° latitude North, and runs through Mexico, the Bahamas, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and southern China. For every place north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun is at its highest point in the sky and this is the longest day of the year.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5° south of the equator and runs through Australia, Chile, southern Brazil, and northern South Africa.

 

   sunrise/sunset picture    sunrise/sunset picture   
             
             

The Seasons

We all know that the Earth makes a complete revolution around the sun once every 365 days, following an orbit that is elliptical in shape. This means that the distance between the Earth and Sun, which is 93 million miles on average, varies throughout the year. During the first week in January, the Earth is about 1.6 million miles closer to the sun. This is referred to as the perihelion. The aphelion, or the point at which the Earth is about 1.6 million miles farther away from the sun, occurs during the first week in July. This fact may sound counter to what we know about seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, but actually the difference is not significant in terms of climate and is NOT the reason why we have seasons. Seasons are caused by the fact that the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5°. The tilt's orientation with respect to space does not change during the year; thus, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun in June and away from the sun in December, as illustrated in the graphic below.

 

NASA - seasons image
Courtesy: NASA

 

Equinoxes and Solstices 2016-2025

NOTE: In the tables, d, h, m indicate day, hour, and minute, respectively.
Date/Times in black are in Universal Time.  Date/Times in blue are Local Time (CDT/CST).

 

                     d  h  m
Local Time
(CDT)

       d  h  m
Local Time
(CDT/CST as indicated)
      2017
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 10 29
   Solstices  June  21 04 24

Mar 20  5:29 am
Jun 20 11:24 pm

Sept  22 20 02
Dec   21 16 28

Sep 22  3:02 pm CDT
Dec 21 10:28 am CST
      2018
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 16 15
   Solstices  June  21 10 07

Mar 20 11:15 am
Jun 21  5:07 am

Sept  23 01 54
Dec   21 22 23

Sep 22  8:54 pm CDT
Dec 21  4:23 pm CST
      2019
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 21 58
   Solstices  June  21 15 54

Mar 20  4:58 pm
Jun 21 10:54 am

Sept  23 07 50
Dec   22 04 19
 
Sep 23  2:50 am CDT
Dec 21 10:19 pm CST
      2020
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 03 50
   Solstices  June  20 21 44

Mar 19 10:50 pm
Jun 21  4:44 pm

Sept  22 13 31
Dec   21 10 02

Sep 22  8:31 am CDT
Dec 21  4:02 am CST
      2021
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 09 37
   Solstices  June  21 03 32

Mar 20  4:37 am
Jun 20 10:32 pm

Sept  22 19 21
Dec   21 15 59

Sep 22  2:21 pm CDT
Dec 21  9:59 am CST
      2022
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 15 33
   Solstices  June  21 09 14

Mar 20 10:33 am
Jun 21  4:14 am

Sept  23 01 04
Dec   21 21 48

Sep 22  8:04 pm CDT
Dec 21  3:48 pm CST
      2023
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 21 24
   Solstices  June  21 14 58

Mar 20  4:24 pm
Jun 21  9:58 am

Sept  23 06 50
Dec   22 03 27

Sep 23  1:50 am CDT
Dec 21  9:27 pm CST
      2024
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 03 06
   Solstices  June  20 20 51

Mar 19 10:06 pm
Jun 20  3:51 pm

Sept  22 12 44
Dec   21 09 21

Sep 22  7:44 am CDT
Dec 21  3:21 am CST
      2025
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 09 01
   Solstices  June  21 02 42

Mar 20  4:01 am
Jun 20  9:42 pm

Sept  22 18 19
Dec   21 15 03

Sep 22  1:19 pm CDT
Dec 21  9:03 am CST