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Tales of equinox: From internet disruptions to TV freeze

Health & Science
 Earth's seasons. [Photo: Courtesy of People.com]

The radiant heat from scorching sun, hot weather and withering plantation have dotted the Kenyan towns since 2019 began. Kenyans have crossed their fingers in wait for the long rains.

This after Kenya Meteorological Department on February 16, 2019 announced that in the third week of March, certain parts of the country would start experiencing heavy downpour.

The long wait drags on and ushering the Equinox -a period characterized by warm weather and dramatic lengths of days and nights.

The equinox period can be described as a time in which the plane of the earth’s equator aligns itself and passes through the centre of the sun.

This happens as a result of the rotation of the earth on its axis and revolution along the orbit. Equinox period also results in equal length of day and night.  

While describing this period, National Weather Service.com writes: “There are only two times of the year when the Earth's axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, resulting in a "nearly" equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes.”

On March 21, 2019, today, the earth is experiencing the Spring Equinox, which began on March 20 (yesterday) at 3.59pm. According to National Weather Service.com, the first day of spring equinox (March 20) is referred to as Vernal Equinox. However, this term can be used at times to refer to the whole spring equinox period.

The other is the autumn equinox, which happens during the September 23 beginning at 1:50 am.


The term equinox is derived from Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night), based on the fact that hours of night and day are equal, 12 hours each.

“The "nearly" equal hours of day and night is due to refraction of sunlight. or a bending of the light's rays that causes the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below the horizon,” notes the NWS.

It states that during this period, the days maybe a little longer at higher latitudes because the sun takes longer time to rise and set. Such means that the length of the day maybe 12 hours and six and half minutes at the equator, 12 hours 8 minutes at 30 degrees’ latitude and 12 hours 16 minutes at 60 degrees’ latitude.


During the equinox period, all the hemispheres of the earth have equal illumination from the sun. The National Geographic Society attributes harsh weather especially in equatorial belts to the maximum sun’s radiation.

It states: “The Equator, at 0° latitude, receives a maximum intensity of the sun’s rays all year. 

 As a result, areas near Earth’s Equator experience relatively constant sunlight and little equinoctial variation.”

This underpins the constant call for people to wear light clothing. Aside from the heat, the NGS reveals that events of spring equinox may affect internet connectivity or even television set signal reception.

It says that the sun gets aligned directly behind satellites in geostationary orbit along the Equator. That intense solar radiation can interfere or even halt signal transmission from the satellites.

“Many communications satellites orbit around the Equator, and consumers may experience slow Internet connections, radio static, or frozen television screens during equinoctial sun outages,” states NGS.

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