6 Difference Between Equinox And Solstice

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What Is Equinox?

The word ‘’equinox’’ comes from a Latin word ‘’aequus’’ meaning equal and ‘’nox’’ meaning night. Therefore, the equinox is the time in the year where the day and night are equal. Both the north and south hemisphere have same length of day and night.

The equinox happens twice a year. It happens in March 21st and September 23rd. These are the days when the sun is exactly above the Equator, which makes day and night of equal length. The two equinoxes are referred to as the spring/vernal equinox and the autumn equinoxes.

The equinoxes are the only instances when the area of the planet closest to the sun (subpolar point) is found on the equator line. This subpolar point on the equator travels up north during the March equinox and shifts south when the September equinox comes.

The spring/vernal equinox happens at around March 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and September 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. The autumn equinox occurs around September 23rd in the Northern Hemisphere and March 21st in the Southern Hemisphere.

What Is Solstice?

The word “Solstice” comes from the Latin word “Sol’’ meaning Sun and “sistere’’ meaning stationary. Solstice refers to either of the two days of the year that have the most or least duration of sunlight (longest or shortest day) in any part of the world. The two Solstices happens in June (20th or 21st) and December (21st or 22nd). These are the days when the Sun’s path in the sky is in the farthest North or South from the Equator.  The two Solstices are referred to as winter and summer solstice.

A hemisphere winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and its summer solstice the longest day of the year.  The winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and on June 20th or 21st in the Southern Hemisphere. The Summer Solstice happens on June 20th or 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and on December 21st or 22nd in the Southern Hemisphere.

During the Summer solstice the North Pole is tilted closest to the Sun, and the Sun’s rays are directly overhead at Tropic of Cancer whereas during the winter solstice, the South Pole is tilted closest to the Sun, and the Sun’s rays are directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn.

Also Read: Difference Between Lunar And Solar Eclipse

Difference Between Equinox And Solstice In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON EQUINOX SOLSTICE
Origin Of Name The word ‘’equinox’’ comes from a Latin word ‘’aequus’’ meaning equal and ‘’nox’’ meaning night. The word “Solstice” comes from the Latin word “Sol’’ meaning Sun and “sistere’’ meaning stationary.
Description Equinox is the time in the year where the day and night are equal. Both the north and south hemisphere have same length of day and night.   Solstice refers to either of the two days of the year that have the most and least duration of sunlight (longest or shortest day) in any part of the world.
Position Of Sun The sun is at its nearest point from the equator. The sun is at its furthest point from the equator.
Time Of Occurrence Usually happens on March 21st (vernal equinox) and September 23rd (autumnal equinox). Usually takes place on June 21st (Summer solstice) and December 22nd (winter solstice).
Length Of Day And Night Daytime and nighttime are of equal length during the march and September equinox. Summer Solstice= longer daytime.   Winter solstice=longer nighttime.
Durations The two equinoxes are referred to as the spring/vernal equinox and the autumn equinoxes.   The two Solstices are referred to as winter and summer solstice.  

Summary

  • The equinox is the time in the year when the day and night are equal whereas, Solstice is either of the two days of the year with longest or shortest day.
  • The two Solstices are referred to as winter and summer solstice whereas the two equinoxes are referred to as the spring/vernal equinox and the autumn equinoxes.
  •   The two Solstices happens in June (20th or 21st) and December (21st or 22nd) whereas the equinox happens twice a year. It happens in March 21st and September 23rd.
  • Solstice and equinox both happens twice a year.
  • During equinox, the sun is at its nearest point from the equator whereas during solstice, the sun is at its furthest point from the equator.
  • They are both experienced in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
  • Summer solstice is the longest day of the year.
  • Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.

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