The terms ‘equinox’ and ‘solstice’ probably sound familiar to most people but what’s the difference and what impact does this have on us as hikers if any? To find out read on.
The best way to remember what an equinox is to think of a similar word and that’s ‘equal’. Equinoxes are when the sun is directly over the equator meaning that the length of the day is equal to the length of the night. This occurs only twice a year, typically around 20-21 March for the autumn equinox (also known as the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere) and around 22-23 September for the spring equinox (also known as the vernal equinox for the southern hemisphere).
Impacts of equinoxes
During equinoxes, the sun exerts a stronger pull on the earth than the rest of the year, because of the alignment between the sun and the equator which impacts on tides. If there’s also an alignment of the moon with the earth and sun, then tides will get even stronger.
While equinoxes are days where daylight and nighttime are of equal length, solstices are essentially the opposite with the summer solstice being the day with the most hours of daylight hours and the winter solstice being the day with the least amount of daylight hours. Again, like equinoxes there are two solstices each year:
Impacts of solstices
The most obvious impact of solstices are on the daylight hours. If you are hiking around the time of the summer solstice you have long periods of daylight hours where you can cover big distances or just take your time. If you are hiking around the time of the winter solstice then the amount of daylight hours is limited and if you want to do long days, then you will be hiking under torch lamp. As a generalisation, the impacts of tides during the solstices are weaker.
Video from Cosmo Verse