National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

For a listing of the dates and times of solstices and equinoxes through 2030, page down.

For more information, see the U.S. Naval Observatory's 
Astronomical Information Center (

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 through 2030

Earth's Seasons - Equinoxes, Solstices, Perihelion, and Aphelion (

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

       d  h  m
Local Time
(CDT/CST as indicated)
   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
   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
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 14 46
   Solstices  June  21 08 24

Mar 20  9:46 am
Jun 21  3:24 am

Sept  23 00 05
Dec   21 20 50

Sep 22  7:05 pm CDT
Dec 21  2:50 pm CST
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 20 25
   Solstices  June  21 14 11

Mar 20  3:25 pm
Jun 21  9:11 am

Sept  23 06 02
Dec   22 02 42

Sep 23  1:02 am CDT
Dec 21  8:42 pm CST
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 02 17
   Solstices  June  20 20 02

Mar 19  9:17 pm
Jun 20  3:02 pm

Sept  22 11 45
Dec   21 08 19

Sep 22  6:45 am CDT
Dec 21  2:19 am CST
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 08 02
   Solstices  June  21 01 48

Mar 20  3:02 am
Jun 20  8:48 pm

Sept  22 17 38
Dec   21 14 14

Sep 22  12:38 pm CDT
Dec 21   8:14 am CST
   Equinoxes  Mar   20 13 52
   Solstices  June  21 07 31

Mar 20  8:52 am
Jun 21  2:31 am

Sept  22 23 27
Dec   21 20 09

Sep 22  6:27 pm CDT
Dec 21  2:09 pm CST