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Under The Martinborough Stars 

March 31, 2020 April 2020 No Comments

One of my mother’s favourite saying was “Spring Forward, Fall Back!” and it felt like when I was a child she said this more than twice a year. Of course, she only said it near the Equinoxes to remind herself and the household about Daylight Saving and the changes of the seasons. 

I was brought up in a household that was obsessed with the changes of the seasons and time. My mother was particularly switched on to this daily rhythm and would mention daily how much sooner the night draws in comparison to yesterday or if it was getting lighter in the evenings. 

The end of Daylight Saving and the equinox, shouldn’t be confused with ‘solstice’ which is the longest day (December 21st) and the shortest day (June 21st). 

As the Earth moves around the Sun, the tilt of the Earth (23.5 degrees) allows areas of the globe to get more direct light than other areas. The tilt always remains in the same direction. 

New Zealand gets Summer when the Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun during December- February, meaning it gets more direct sunlight. At the same time, the Northern Hemisphere is receiving indirect, more spread out sunlight because that hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun and so is having Winter.

An equinox is the day when the Earth’s path around the Sun gives us an equal length night and day.  Both hemispheres get the same direct light as neither hemisphere is tilted away or towards the Sun. The Autumnal Equinox is 21th March and the Spring Equinox is 23rd September, days of equal length night and day.

We are only on Daylight Saving in the warmer six months of the year, between September and March. in Autumn and Spring, we readjust or daylight hours from having more sunlight hours in Summer. We change the clocks on the first Sunday in April back by one hour (Fall Back- Autumn) and the last Sunday in September we add an hour (Spring Forward- Spring). 

A New Zealand Astronomer named George Vernon Hudson, in 1895, first suggested the idea of Daylight Saving, but with the First World War, this notion became more accepted as it helped save coal needed for the War Effort. Days were brought back an hour so people had to get up earlier and go to bed earlier, reducing the amount of coal burned in the evening. 

During WW1, 31 countries had copied the movement so they could save resources needed for War. In WW2, the number of countries grew to 52. It was known as “War Time” but eventually was accepted as ‘Daylight Saving’ in most countries in the 60’s. 

With clocks going back on April 5th, it means we now have an extra hour to stargaze in the evening. Yippee! Thanks Daylight Saving!

Becky Bateman runs the award winning, nomadic astro-tourism business Under The Stars

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