Spring Forth with Tonight’s Vernal Equinox

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The equinox marks the balancing point of the sun on the Equator. And for those of us weary of winter, tonight marks the start of spring.

The vernal equinox is a time of new beginnings, both temporal and astrological. Spring will spring forth at 7:21 p.m. EST as the sun crosses into the northern hemisphere, when most of the earth will see a well-balanced 12 hours of both daylight and darkness. The northern half of the Earth has warmer temperatures and increased sunlight to look forward to, while the southern hemisphere will see the transition into autumn.

(More on TIME.com: See a brief history of spring break)

The event begins a new season for the terrestrial world but marks an entirely new year for the astrological world. When the sun travels into the northern hemisphere due to the Earth’s tilt, the sign of Aries rises. Aries, the ram, is often associated with the Roman god of war, Mars – which is where this month’s name comes from. Fiery and courageous Aries will see its season, giving way to the other spirited, independent astrological signs that fall during the summer. When the sun again slips across the equator six months from now in the autumnal equinox, the interpersonal-oriented signs will see their moment in the sun.

This is all true, of course, only if you don’t subscribe to the New Zodiac. The contentious astrological changes released earlier this year threw many long-standing signs into flux, even readjusting the dates that each sign rises. Whether or not your astrological sign is affected by the vernal equinox, we can all rally behind the fact that the long-awaited spring has sprung.

(More on TIME.com: See the signs of the zodiac — has yours changed?)

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