Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Today is the Spring Equinox, or the Vernal Equinox - or to avoid any suggestion of Northern Hemisphere bias on the part of Fantasy Bob, the March Equinox. It is one of 2 times a year when day and night are just about of equal length. It is when the sun crosses the equator and the sun will rise exactly in the east and set exactly in the west. At sunrise on the vernal equinox, the sphinx points directly to the rising sun and many ancient monuments, not including FB, are aligned.

For many people the equinox traditionally marks the first day of spring. This year is the earliest that the March equinox has been since 1896 and Doughty Groundsmen the world over are remarking on the earliness of the season. But it gets better for Doughty Groundsmen. This year the official astronomical lengths of the seasons are
Winter: 88.994 days
Spring: 92.758 days
Summer: 93.651 days
Autumn: 89.842
The equinox at Stonehenge
Summer is the longest season. The path of the earth's orbit means that spring is currently being reduced by approximately one minute per year and winter by about half a minute per year. Summer is gaining the minute lost from spring, and autumn is gaining the half-minute lost from winter. FB is still trying to establish whether any of this applies in Scotland where the very concept of summer sometimes takes considerable imagination on the part of cricketers, to whom it seems that Scotland may well be in an astronomically separate part of the universe.

The spring equinox is associated with many pagan festivities.  In times gone by there would have been blood sacrifices which nowadays are only associated with Old Firm football matches in Glasgow.  But the equinox  is still marked as the New Year Festival - Nowruz - in a number of countries including Iran.

Some people enjoy egg balancing
There are other more quaint traditions based on the supposition that the particular alignment of the planets on the equinox affects balance. So it is reckoned that a raw egg will balance on its end or brooms will stand upright for themselves. This is important stuff.  It could be vital to the cricketer.  Balance and FB at the crease are ships that have passed in the night without acknowledging each other.  What if FB could go to the wicket when the equinoctial forces are around?  Would he not be transformed into a Dravid, an Amla, a Clarke?  How much would he resemble a raw egg on its end?  Why has the fixture secretary not arranged a fixture to test this phenomenon?  Like so much else FB must explore the concept only in his dreams.

Will the earliest equinox since 1896 herald a good cricketing summer?  In 1896 Australia toured England playing an astonishing 34 First Class matches including 3 Tests.  And modern players complain of too much cricket..............  England won the Ashes despite going into the decider at the Oval without their best bowlers following their strike action - for the full story see FB's previous post here.  Ranjitsinhji was the leading batsman of the season and made 154 on his Test debut.  He was a real egg balancer.

FB wishes his world wide readership successful egg balancing.


  1. Nice to know that summer is getting longer - not much sign of it in Scotland though. To have a summer at all would be a welcome improvement.