THE equinox and the solstice mark the Earth's transition through different seasons.
The four seasons – winter, spring, summer and autumn – exist because of the Earth's changing distance from the sun.
What's the difference between an equinox and a solstice?
The equinox marks the time when daylight and night-time are approximately the same length, with solstice occurring on the longest and shortest days (in terms of sunlight).
The equinox in the Northern hemisphere occurs twice a year around spring and autumn.
It is the time the plane of Earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun's disc.
The solstice marks summer and winter seasons.
It is the times when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon.
This marks the longest and shortest days.
The spring equinox usually takes place around March 20, marking the beginning of astronomical spring, when days are longer than night-time.
The autumn equinox marks the start of autumn, as night becomes longer than the day. This usually takes place around September 22.
The solstice also occurs twice a year, but in the form of summer and winter.
Summer solstice occurs around June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year.
During this time, the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, resulting in increased sunlight and warmer temperatures.
At the winter solstice, the sun will be at its lowest point.
Does daylight affect your mood?
Dwindling daylight can have a serious impact on your health.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition experienced by those who experience normal mental health during the rest of the year but suffer depression during winter months.
Light exposure is shown to impact levels of melatonin – which regulates sleep, and serotonin – a hormone that could impact mood, appetite and sleep.
The right balance of sunlight can lift your mood – as well as help with Vitamin D levels, cancer prevention and building strong bones.
Treatment for SAD varies for different individuals, but include antidepressants and cognitive behavioural therapy.
Anyone who thinks they are suffering from the condition should consult their doctor.
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