The beginning of spring

Spring 2024 in the northern hemisphere will begin on 20 March at 04:06 hours official Spanish mainland time according to calculations by the National Astronomical Observatory (National Geographic Institute - Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility). This season will last approximately 92 days and 18 hours, and will end on 20 June with the beginning of summer.

The beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere is defined by the moment when the Earth passes through the point in its orbit from which the centre of the Sun crosses the celestial equator in its apparent northward motion. On the day when this happens the length of day and night practically coincide. This is also called the vernal equinox.

As spring begins in the northern hemisphere, autumn begins in the southern hemisphere.


Equinoccio de primavera


The sky during spring 2024

The sky after sunset will begin the season with Jupiter and Mercury visible, but as the months go by, the planets will move closer to the Sun and gradually disappear from the evening sky. Mercury will disappear in early April and Jupiter in early May. At the end of spring there will be no planets visible at dusk.

Sunrises, on the other hand, will begin spring with Mars as the only visible planet. From Aprip onwards, Saturn will appear low on the horizon towards the east and Jupiter will make appearance during June.

As for constellations, in the early spring some typical winter constellations, such as Orion, Canis Major and Gemini, will still be visible at dusk. As the weeks progress, these constellations will move closer to the Sun and give way to more characteristic spring constellations, such as Leo, with its striking inverted question mark shape ending in the star Regulus, Virgo, with the bright Spica, and the Bootes, with the red star Arcturus.

During the spring of 2024 two eclipses will take place, one solar and one lunar. The lunar eclipse will take place on 25 March it will be penumbral, and will be visible in America. The solar eclipse will occur on  8 April, it will be total, and will be visible in North and Central America. In Spain, it will be visible as partial in the westernmost Canary Islands and the northwest of the peninsula but with very low magnitudes.

Other phenomena of astronomical interest during the spring of 2024 are the Lyrid meteor showers, whose maximum is expected around 22 April, and the Eta aquarids, with a maximum around 5 May. The full moons of the season will occur on 25 March, 24 April,and 23 May.


Time change

Although both the European Parliament and the Commission have spoken out in favour of eliminating time changes in the future, there is still no final decision on the matter. Therefore, the traditional time change on the last Sunday in March will remain in place for 2024. On that day, 31 March, at 2:00 a.m. Spanish mainland time, the clocks will be set forward one hour to 3:00 a.m. In the Canary Islands, 1:00 a.m. will be changed to 2:00 a.m.


Some interesting facts about spring

Throughout the 21st century, the start of spring can occur on at most three different calendar dates (19, 20 and 21 March), with the earliest start being in 2096 and the latest start in 2003. The variations from year to year are due to the way the sequence of calendar years (some leap years, some not) fits with the length of each orbit of the Earth around the Sun.

Early spring is the time of year when day length increases most rapidly. At Spanish mainland latitudes, the sun rises more than a minute earlier in the morning than the previous day, and sets more than a minute later in the evening. As a result, in early spring, the time the Sun is above the horizon increases by almost three minutes each day.

For more information on the year's astronomical phenomena, please consult the Almanak of the Astronomical Observatory, , published by the National Geographic Institute.

Information provided by the National Astronomical Observatory (IGN, Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility). Reproduction in whole or in part is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.