Unraveling the Mysteries of the Spring Equinox: A Journey Through History and Fascinating Facts

The arrival of the spring equinox has been celebrated and revered throughout history, marking a time of renewal and balance as the days become longer and the Earth awakens from its winter slumber. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history and intriguing facts about the spring equinox, exploring its significance across cultures and time. Get ready to be amazed by the captivating stories and traditions that have evolved around this celestial event.

  1. Understanding the Spring Equinox

The spring equinox, also known as the vernal equinox, occurs when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, resulting in equal periods of daylight and nighttime across the Earth[1]. This event typically occurs around March 20th or 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and September 22nd or 23rd in the Southern Hemisphere. The equinox derives its name from the Latin words “aequus,” meaning equal, and “nox,” meaning night[2]. As the days continue to grow longer after the equinox, the Earth tilts on its axis, bringing warmer weather and the renewal of life[3].

  1. Ancient Observances and Significance

The spring equinox has been recognized and celebrated by various cultures throughout history, each attributing unique significance to the event.

a) Stonehenge, England

One of the most iconic monuments associated with the equinox is Stonehenge, a prehistoric stone circle in England[4]. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, the Sun rises directly above the Heel Stone, an ancient marker located just outside the circle[5]. This alignment suggests that the monument was designed to observe these celestial events, although its true purpose remains a mystery.

b) The Mayan Pyramids, Mexico

In Mexico, the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is home to El Castillo, a stepped pyramid that hosts a spectacular display during the spring equinox. As the Sun sets, a series of triangular shadows appear along the pyramid’s staircase, creating the illusion of a serpent slithering down the structure[6]. This phenomenon, known as the “Descent of Kukulkan,” honors the Mayan feathered serpent god and symbolizes the connection between the heavens and Earth.

c) The Iranian Nowruz Celebration

The spring equinox is also the beginning of the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz[7]. This ancient celebration, dating back over 3,000 years, marks the start of a 13-day festival filled with feasting, family gatherings, and rituals to welcome the New Year and the arrival of spring[8]. One of the most important traditions of Nowruz is the Haft-Sin table, which features seven symbolic items beginning with the Persian letter “S,” each representing a specific aspect of life, such as health, wealth, and happiness[9].

  1. Modern Celebrations and Traditions

In contemporary times, the spring equinox continues to inspire various celebrations and customs around the world.

a) Higan, Japan

In Japan, the equinox is observed during a week-long Buddhist event called Higan, which translates to “the other shore”[10]. During this time, people visit their ancestors’ graves and participate in religious services to honor the dead and seek enlightenment[11].

b) Ostara, Germany

The pagan holiday of Ostara, named after the Germanic goddess of spring and fertility, is celebrated during the spring equinox[12]. Traditional customs include decorating eggs, planting seeds, and lighting bonfires to welcome the return of the Sun and the fertility of the land[13].

c) Nowruz, Iran

Nowruz remains a significant celebration in Iran and other Persian-influenced cultures, with people gathering for feasting, dancing, and exchanging gifts[14]. The Haft-Sin table continues to be an essential element of the festivities, representing the hope and renewal of the New Year[15].

Scientific Significance

Beyond its cultural and spiritual importance, the spring equinox holds scientific significance as well.

a) Equinox and Astronomy

The spring equinox marks the start of astronomical spring, a time when the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the Sun[16]. This alignment results in equal periods of daylight and darkness across the Earth, and the days continue to lengthen until the summer solstice, the longest day of the year[17].

b) Equinox and Climate

The spring equinox is also a crucial time for climate and agriculture. As the Sun warms the Earth, plants and animals awaken from their winter dormancy, and farmers prepare to plant crops[18]. The equinox provides a crucial balance between heat and cold, which enables the growth of diverse plant life and a thriving ecosystem[19].


The spring equinox is a fascinating event that has captivated humanity for centuries. From ancient monuments and traditions to modern celebrations, the equinox has inspired diverse customs and beliefs worldwide. Whether you observe the equinox for spiritual or scientific reasons, one thing is clear: the spring equinox represents a time of renewal and balance, a moment when the Earth awakens from its slumber and life begins anew.


  1. https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
  2. https://www.etymonline.com/word/equinox
  3. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/spring-equinox/
  4. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history-and-stories/history/
  5. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-heritage/stonehenge/
  6. https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/descent-kukulkan-0010375
  7. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nowruz
  8. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/holidays/reference/persian-new-year-nowruz/
  9. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/20/393798990/a-spring-feast-how-to-set-the-nowruz-haft-seen-table
  10. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2286.html
  11. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2017/03/17/travel/celebrate-vernal-equinox-japan/
  12. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ostara-Germanic-festival
  13. https://www.learnreligions.com/ostara-2562418
  14. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47565960
  15. https://www.irandokht.com/editorial/index4.php?page=3&cnt=71&b_id=587&cat_id=
  16. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/spring-equinox/
  17. https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
  18. https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
  19. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/03/20/spring-equinox-is-a-wobbly-balancing-act/

Journey into the Unknown: What It Might Be Like to Enter a Black Hole

Black holes are some of the most fascinating and mysterious objects in the universe. They are known for their immense gravity, which can pull in anything that comes too close, including light itself. The idea of entering a black hole might seem like a science fiction trope, but it’s a topic of intense scientific interest and research. In this article, we’ll explore what it might be like to enter a black hole, and what the latest research says about these enigmatic objects.

What is a Black Hole?

A black hole is a region of space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape it, not even light. It is created when a massive star collapses in on itself, leaving behind a point of infinite density known as a singularity. The area around the singularity is called the event horizon, which is the point of no return for anything that enters it.

What Happens When You Enter a Black Hole?

Entering a black hole is a one-way trip. Once you cross the event horizon, there is no turning back. What happens next is still a matter of speculation, but here are some of the leading theories:

  1. Spaghettification: As you approach the singularity, the gravitational forces become increasingly stronger. This can cause you to be stretched out into a long, thin shape, like spaghetti. The process is known as spaghettification, and it’s a result of the tidal forces acting on your body.
  2. Time Dilation: As you get closer to the black hole, time starts to slow down relative to the outside world. This effect is known as time dilation, and it’s a consequence of the intense gravitational field. The closer you get to the singularity, the slower time becomes, until it eventually stops altogether.
  3. No Escape: Once you cross the event horizon, there is no way to escape the black hole’s gravity. Even if you were to travel at the speed of light, you would still be pulled towards the singularity. It’s like falling into a bottomless pit, with no way to climb back out.
  4. Unknown fate: The fate of anything that enters a black hole is still unknown. Some theories suggest that you might be crushed to infinite density at the singularity, while others propose that you might emerge in another part of the universe through a hypothetical wormhole.

Latest Research on Black Holes

Black holes are still one of the most mysterious objects in the universe, but scientists have made significant progress in understanding their properties and behavior. Here are some of the latest research findings:

  1. Black Holes Can Merge: In 2015, scientists detected gravitational waves from two black holes that had merged into one. This was the first direct evidence of black hole mergers, and it confirmed a prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
  2. Black Holes Emit Radiation: In 1974, Stephen Hawking proposed that black holes emit radiation due to quantum effects. This radiation, known as Hawking radiation, is extremely weak and difficult to detect, but it’s a crucial prediction of modern physics.
  3. Black Holes May Hold Dark Matter: Dark matter is a mysterious substance that makes up about 85% of the matter in the universe. Some theories suggest that black holes may be a source of dark matter, as they can capture and hold onto it.
  4. Black Holes Can Spin: Like stars, black holes can spin around their axis. The speed of the spin can affect the properties of the black hole, such as the size of the event horizon and the strength of the gravitational field.


Entering a black hole might seem like a topic relegated to science fiction, but it’s a subject of intense scientific research and speculation. While the fate of anything that enters a black hole is still unknown, scientists have made significant progress in understanding their properties and behavior. Black holes are still one of the most fascinating and mysterious objects in the universe, and their study has led to breakthroughs in our understanding of physics and the nature of the cosmos.


  1. “Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger” by B.P. Abbott et al. Physical Review Letters, 2016.
  2. “Particle creation by black holes” by S.W. Hawking. Communications in Mathematical Physics, 1975.
  3. “Black holes as dark matter detectors” by Maxim Pospelov and Adam Ritz. Physical Review D, 2009.
  4. “Black hole spin dependence of general relativistic multi-transonic accretion close to and far from the event horizon” by Dipanjan Mukherjee et al. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020.
  5. “Black Holes: Gravity’s Relentless Pull” by Eric Weisstein. Wolfram Research, 2021.

Exploring the Universe’s Most Unique Planets: Hot Jupiters, Diamond Planets, Water Worlds, Tatooine-like Planets, and Super Earths

Over the past few decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets, planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. Among these discoveries, some planets stand out due to their uniqueness. In this paper, we will explore some of the most unique planets that astronomers have found, including hot Jupiters, diamond planets, and water worlds. We will also discuss how these planets challenge our understanding of planetary formation and evolution.

Hot Jupiters

Hot Jupiters are gas giant planets that orbit very close to their parent stars, with orbital periods of just a few days. These planets are hot because they receive a large amount of radiation from their host stars. The first hot Jupiter was discovered in 1995, and since then, astronomers have found hundreds of these planets.

One of the most interesting hot Jupiters is HD 209458 b, located about 150 light-years from Earth. This planet is about the same size as Jupiter but much hotter, with a temperature of around 1,000 degrees Celsius. HD 209458 b is also very close to its host star, with an orbital period of just 3.5 days. This proximity has allowed astronomers to study the planet’s atmosphere, which has revealed the presence of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other molecules. These observations have challenged our understanding of planetary atmospheres and have raised questions about how hot Jupiters form and evolve [1].

Diamond Planets

Diamonds are known for their hardness and rarity, but did you know that there are planets made of diamonds? In 2012, astronomers discovered two exoplanets that are believed to be composed mostly of diamond. These planets, named PSR J1719-1438 b and PSR J1719-1438 c, are located about 4,000 light-years from Earth and orbit a rapidly spinning neutron star.

The planets are believed to have formed from the remains of a white dwarf star, which had shed its outer layers and left behind a core of mostly carbon. The intense gravity of the neutron star then compressed the carbon into diamond. These planets are estimated to be about five times the size of Earth but much denser, with a mass equivalent to several Jupiters. The surfaces of these planets are believed to be covered in graphite, with diamonds possibly present deep below the surface [2].

Water Worlds

Water worlds are planets that are covered by a deep ocean, with no or very little land. These planets have been a subject of scientific speculation for many years, and in 2019, astronomers discovered one of the most promising candidates for a water world yet. The planet, named K2-18 b, is located about 110 light-years from Earth and is about twice the size of Earth.

K2-18 b is believed to have a thick atmosphere and a temperature that ranges from -73 to 47 degrees Celsius. Astronomers have detected water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere, and the planet is thought to have a rocky core surrounded by a layer of water. This discovery has raised the possibility of life on other planets, as water is a necessary ingredient for life as we know it [3].

Tatooine-like Planets

Tatooine, the fictional planet from the Star Wars movies, is known for its two suns. But did you know that there are real-life planets that orbit two stars? These planets, called circumbinary planets, are rare but have been discovered by astronomers.

One of the most interesting circumbinary planets is Kepler-16b, located about 200 light-years from Earth. This planet is about the size of Saturn and orbits two stars that are about 20 million kilometers apart. Because of the two suns, the planet experiences two sunrises and two sunsets each day. Kepler-16b is also very cold, with a temperature of around -100 degrees Celsius, due to its distance from the stars. The discovery of circumbinary planets challenges our understanding of how planets form, as it was previously thought that planets could not form in such a chaotic environment [4].

Super Earths

Super Earths are planets that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune, with sizes ranging from 1.5 to 2 times the size of Earth. These planets have been the focus of much research in recent years, as they are believed to be the most common type of exoplanet.

One of the most interesting super Earths is Kepler-452b, located about 1,400 light-years from Earth. This planet is about 1.6 times the size of Earth and orbits a star that is very similar to our sun. Kepler-452b is also located in the habitable zone of its star, the region where the temperature is just right for liquid water to exist on the surface. This has led to speculation that the planet may have liquid water and could potentially support life [5].


In conclusion, the discovery of exoplanets has led to a wealth of fascinating discoveries, including hot Jupiters, diamond planets, water worlds, Tatooine-like planets, and super Earths. These planets challenge our understanding of planetary formation and evolution and raise questions about the possibility of life on other planets. As astronomers continue to discover new exoplanets, we can expect to learn even more about the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy and beyond.

Source List:

[1] Charbonneau, D., Brown, T. M., Noyes, R. W., & Gilliland, R. L. (2002). Detection of an extrasolar planet atmosphere. The Astrophysical Journal, 568(1), 377-384.

[2] Bailes, M., Bates, S. D., Bhalerao, V., Bhat, N. D. R., Burgay, M., Burke-Spolaor, S., … & Keith, M. J. (2011). Transformation of a Star into a Planet in a Millisecond Pulsar Binary. Science, 333(6050), 1717-1720.

[3] Tsiaras, A., Waldmann, I. P., Zingales, T., Rocchetto, M., Morello, G., Damiano, M., … & Tinetti, G. (2019). Water vapour in the atmosphere of the habitable-zone eight-Earth-mass planet K2-18 b. Nature Astronomy, 3(12), 1086-1091.

[4] Doyle, L. R., Carter, J. A., Fabrycky, D. C., Slawson, R. W., Howell, S. B., Winn, J. N., … & Welsh, W. F. (2011). Kepler-16: A transiting circumbinary planet. Science, 333(6049), 1602-1606.

[5] Jenkins, J. M., Caldwell, D. A., Chandrasekaran, H., Twicken, J. D., Bryson, S. T., Quintana, E. V., … & Klaus, T. C. (2015). Discovery and validation of Kepler-452b: a 1.6 R$_{\oplus}$ super Earth exoplanet in the habitable zone of a G2 star. The Astronomical Journal, 150(2), 56.

Black Hole Spin Could Be Key in Understanding How Galaxies Expand


Black Hole Spin

Scientists at Durham University (UK) have discovered a new way to measure the spin of ginormous black holes. According to the study, this could improve our understanding of how our galaxies are getting bigger; I have always wondered why a lot of the galaxies swirl and grow.  A team of astronomers found a black hole that is ten million times the size of our Sun in the center of a spiral galaxy that is about 500 million light years away from Earth. This black hole has been feeding off the materials in the disc of the galaxy which may explain its enormous size.

The data collected allowed the astronomers to measure the distance of the disc from the black hole. Distance depends on how fast the black hole’s spin is, a faster black hole’s spin pulls the disc closer, and by measuring the distance of the disc, they are able to predict the speed of the spin. The scientists agree that this could help in understanding how galaxies grow over a span of billions of years.

(Two New Blue Developments in Our Galaxy)

Almost all galaxies contain black holes. They shoot out extremely hot particles that prevent gases in the galaxy itself from cooling, therefore inhibiting the growth of new stars. The jets of energy that black holes shoot out could be linked to why black holes spin. Unless the matter is close to the black hole, it is difficult to measure spin, since the power of the black hole does not reach to further matter. The odd thing about black holes, according to Professor Chris Done, is that the black hole spin may affect the nature of the whole galaxy.

We know the black hole in the centre of each galaxy is linked to the galaxy as a whole, which is strange because black holes are tiny in relation to the size of a galaxy. This would be like something the size of a large boulder (10m), influencing something the size of the Earth.

When a black hole spins, it drags particles from the accretion disc. The more particles it drags, the faster it is able to spin. Measuring the distance between the two leads to the possibility of measuring a black hole’s spin.

(New Plausible Theory of Black Holes: Gateways to Other Universes)





Wondergressive: Two New Blue Developments in Our Galaxy

Wondergressive: New Plausible Theory of Black Holes

Augmented Reality Blows My Mind—Twice

Numerous studies have shown that Wondergressive readers are funnier, more attractive, likeable and intelligent than the average human being (links pending, but the science looks solid to me). This being the case, I’m sure many of you were already aware of futuristic-sounding, mind-blowing technology known as augmented reality. It even sounds very sci-fi. I’ve chanced upon this amazing bit of science twice (that I’m aware of) so far, and both times I’ve been left with my mouth hanging open.

The first time I ran into it was at Printing Arts, a print shop in Broadview, IL. They were printing baseball cards (which are apparently “in” again) as well as some other sports-related collateral when one of the guys showed me a card that was about an eighth of an inch thick. It had a cutout on the front through which you could feel the fabric of some player’s jersey. I think it was some football player’s, but honestly, I’m not a sports girl so I don’t remember exactly what game it was. Anyway, he told me to take out my phone, pull up the camera and wait for it to focus on the card from directly above it. Not sure what to expect, I played along. Holy shit—a video started to play on my camera screen! I was floored. Still am, actually.

Basically, the camera picks up on some code which wasn’t visible on the face of the card, accesses the corresponding video from the interwebs and streams it right onto your phone. This all happens in the space of seconds, not minutes, and is virtually transparent to the user.

The second instance was very recent. A work acquaintance showed me an app he had on his iPhone called SkyView by Terminal Eleven. Being something of an astronomy nut and long-time stargazer, I was again amazed by how far technology had come while I wasn’t looking.

StarView is an augmented reality app that shows you a view of the sky right on your iPhone. As you move your mobile device through the air, it seamless reveals the heavens in your little window. Stars, constellations, planets and even satellites all show up. You can further see the trajectory of celestial objects for a 24-hour period and even change the date to see the results of the past or the future.

While both those examples are great and awe-inspiring for sure, there are actually many practical uses for augmented reality, especially in our increasingly mobile lives. Educational apps like Science AR and Anatomy 4D turn posters and other printed materials into interactive pieces. Virtual History ROMA boasts about its “full-immersion panoramic experience.”

WorkSnug allows you to see where free WiFi is located and even has a decibel meter to gauge noise level so that you can work comfortably wherever you’re at. Speaking of cities, Acrossair tells Londoners where their nearest tube station is via their iPhone’s video function.

User “Mos D.” says of Yelp’s Monocle app:

I love monocle (sic). Stand on the street, point it around you 360 degrees, and it shows you nearby places. Imagine you are the Terminator and that’s how it works.

Is that what all this is coming to? We’ll all have Terminators in our pockets and will navigate the world through miniature screens? If it means not having to ask questionable, seedy-looking strangers where the subway is, I’m on board.

Printing Arts
Terminal Eleven Twitter
Science AR app
Anatomy 4D app
Virtual History ROMA app
Mos D. Yelp Monocle comment

Amateur Astronomer Films Jupiter Explosion


Amateur astronomer Dan Peterson filmed a comet making an explosive entry into Jupiter’s atmosphere and has provided viewers with the video.  For those of us interested in events happening outside of Terra, this is really cool footage.

Apparently the last asteroid strike on the planet in 2009 left a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean on the planet’s cloud tops.  That is huge!

To get a better idea of Jupiter’s size take a look at this image captured by the Cassini spacecraft.