March madness

Two things happen to the Sun at this time of year:

– It leans away from us. That is, March 7 is the date when its north pole is most inclined away from us, though only by 7 degrees.


(The Sun’s spin axis is tilted 7 degrees with respect to the plane in which Earth travels, so we see the Sun with its north pole tilted away from us around March, toward us around September. This has little effect except on the number of sunspots that are observed, because more of them are in the Sun’s northern hemisphere.)

–And we turn ourselves away from the Sun. That is, we are ordered by a silly law to turn our clocks an hour ahead of natural Sun time. We perform this ritual on (this year) the night between Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8 in America, Saturday March 28 and Sunday March 29 in Britain.

Another thing that happens in March is that hares are seen boxing with one another, hence the expression “Mad as a March hare.”


And you will remember that in Alice in Wonderland the March Hare and the Mad Hatter, along with their poor little stooge the Dormouse, are stuck at tea-time because the Hatter has “murdered time” (with his singing). I think this mad March pair invented our mad March law, which causes us to pretend for the next eight months that the Sun reaches noon an hour before he really does, and that is why he disgustedly turns his head away from us.

My discussion of “daylight-shifting time,” its details and flaws, was fuller in Astronomical Calendar 2014 than 2015. To avoid repeating it all, I think I’ll shift it to a web page.



One thought on “March madness”

  1. Earth also moves through equinox relative to the Sun every March. I notice that a lot. The rising Sun is noticeably farther north on the horizon every morning these days, the noontime Sun now climbs above the top of the roof of the building to the south of my home, and each day is a couple or even a few minutes longer than the previous day.

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