Astronomical Spring has begun. You may already notice it by the lengthening of the days, the incidence of light or by the birds chirping more and more. Whoever becomes more aware of the astronomical spring, becomes more aware of the movement of the earth and therefore also of himself. Why does the astronomical spring differ from the climatic spring? And who are we as human beings on earth?
A few years ago I discovered the difference in the way of division into seasons. It was sometime in February that I had the feeling that spring had already started. However, I realized that it would still be a while before winter was officially over and wondered why that was the case. I discovered that the division of the seasons as we know them is not based on the changes of the earth, but on a practical argument of the meteorologists. I learned that there are two springs: the astronomical and the climatic.
Astronomical Spring: The Earth Rotates
Astronomical Spring means that the Earth has rotated further in relation to the Sun. In other words: the seasonal differences arise from the tilt of the axis around which the earth revolves. As a result, the sun in the Northern Hemisphere rises higher above the horizon in summer than in winter. As a result, the sun shines longer in summer than in spring, autumn and winter. The further north, the shorter the sun is above the horizon.
The climatic spring: a practical layout
The climatic spring is based on a division of three calendar months. In 1780, the ‘Societas Meteorologica Palatina’ – one of the first international weather organizations – decided on this classification for practical reasons. She subsequently laid down this classification in international agreements. It is this format that is still used today. It is not only used by weather organizations, but it is also taught in schools and noted in diaries.
Actual experience versus imposed classification
While the practical arguments for the climatic division have certainly been legitimate, it is interesting to realize that this division is not connected to the movement of the planet. She is detached from reality, from the position of the stars.
It might be interesting to take a look at how Astronomical Spring comes alive for you these weeks. You can experience that the transition from winter time to spring is not by definition connected with the division as we know it. You can become aware of the spring that you may already feel has arrived. How does it feel to see the sun shine earlier and earlier? What do you experience as the days lengthen? Do you see the light change?
Connected to the Earth
By becoming aware of the changes here on earth, we also become aware of the fact that we live on the earth. On planet earth. A planet in a galaxy that in turn relates to the sun and other planets and stars.
For that we may first have to break free from the divisions that we as humans have imposed on the earth; such as a three-month climatic model. However meaningful it may be; it does not do justice to the intrinsic value of the earth itself. There are even more models and plans in which we try to steer life on earth, but often achieve the opposite. Namely that the earthly life disappears from it. And with it, ultimately, human life.
In his work, the French philosopher Bruno Latour explains in great detail how the old dichotomy of man versus nature is no longer tenable. Man and nature merge – insofar as they have not always been so – into a being in motion. A being in which human activity and the existing world make unexpected connections. Bruno Latour calls that being: Gaia. According to Latour, it is high time to act to change our perspective on Earth if we are to be able to preserve human life on Earth.
A spring for the earth?
Maybe we can seize the spring to shine our own light on our relationship with the earth and think about what we can do for her. In the knowledge that she has been orbiting the sun for thousands of years and that we have been orbiting her for thousands of years to come. Simply because we do not manage the earth, but humanity – as the native americans put it – belongs to the earth. Simply because we are Earth.
The beginning of the astronomical spring, when the morning light kisses us awake earlier, can be an impetus for this. Precisely because everything comes to life for us; the tree buds that sparkle in sunlight, the birds that chirp, the first butterflies on a flower.
It makes us realize that the earth is alive; that we live ourselves. In that connection with the earth, we can ask ourselves how we want to relate to the earth as human beings. This awareness can incite us to new ideas and perspectives on the earth, on life and on ourselves. Perhaps a new spring will arrive. A spring in which we as humanity shine a new light on earth.