The vernal (or spring) equinox takes place around March 20 or March 21 and signals the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. During the equinox, the amount of daylight and darkness is nearly the same in length. The word equinox comes from the Latin “aequus,” meaning equal, and “nox,” meaning night. The Earth tilts at an angle of 23.5 degrees on its axis relative to its plane of orbit around the sun. As the Earth orbits the sun over the course of a year, different places get sunlight for different amounts of time. An equinox occurs at the moment when the Earth’s axis doesn’t tilt toward or away from the sun. Someone standing on the equator on an equinox can observe the sun passing directly overhead. Additionally, equinoxes are the only two times a year that the sun rises due east and sets due west.