Roots 'n' Shoots: Season Lore for the Southern Hemisphere

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Season Lore for the Southern Hemisphere

I thought as we are in the region of Winter Solstice this weekend I would provide some elaboration on the topic, especially for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere.

Ecological Seasons & Annual Rings

The Earth's seasons are created due to its rotation around the Sun (365.256363004 days) and its axial tilt of 23.4 degrees. As the Earth orbits the Sun, certain sides are more or less exposed to the Sun's rays, resulting in warmer and cooler periods on Earth. The Northern Hemisphere is inclined towards the sun for one half of the year and the Southern Hemisphere is inclined towards the sun for the other half. This is how our season are created and they are at opposites during the year with regards to the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres.

Summer Solstice in the different Hemispheres

Ancient civilisations across the world observed the seasonal phenomenon as well as the Sun's path through the Earth's sky and the day lengths associated with these. This lead to the division of the seasons according to day length and the sun's position in the sky. If you were to stand at the North Pole, you would notice that the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky during June, hence the Sun spends the longest amount of time in the sky during this time and the day lengths are the longest - thus it is Summer Solstice (or Estival Solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere. Whereas the opposite occurs in the South and the Southern Hemisphere experiences their longest nights, and so Winter Solstice (Hibernal Solstice). The Southern Hemisphere has Summer Solstice in December, when the Northern Hemisphere has Winter Solstice. The first day of Spring and Autumn are referred to as Equinoxes, where night and day lengths are equal, for Southerners Spring Equinox (Vernal Equinox) is in Spring and Autumn Equinox (Autumnal Equinox) is in March.

Earth's orbit around the sun and the division of the seasons.
Peroapsis is when the Earth is the closest to the Sun,
whereas Apoapsis is when the Earth is the farthest.

The arrival of Solstice and Equinoxes are celebrated by many cultures around the world. The most well known are likely those from the Pagan cultures. For example, Harvest Festivals are celebrated between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice such as Halloween or Samhain, when summer bounties are harvested and stored for winter months. Unfortunately many of the popularised dates are for the Northern Hemisphere, thus Southerners should be celebrating Harvest times around April-May...

Earth's axial tilt

For those interested here are the exact astronomical dates & times for the Solstices and Equinoxes for the Southern Hemisphere, Johannesburg, South Africa. You can generate similar tables for your region at

Autumn Equinox
Winter Solstice
Spring Equinox
Summer Solstice
March 21, 00:46
June 21, 18:39
September 23, 10:22
December 22, 06:49
March 20, 06:31
June 21, 00:35
September 22, 16:22
December 21, 12:45
March 20, 12:30
June 21, 06:25
September 22, 22:03
December 21, 18:29
March 20, 18:16
June 21, 12:08
September 23, 03:55
December 22, 00:24
March 21, 00:00
June 21, 17:55
September 23, 09:51
December 22, 06:21
March 20, 05:51
June 20, 23:45
September 22, 15:32
December 21, 12:03


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  1. Good morning - I was not able to find a contact e-mail for you so I am posting here. Would you be interested in a guest blogging opportunity with Gardening Know How? If so, please e-mail me at:
    shelley AT



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