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STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
SPRING officially begins in the early hours of Monday ushering in a new season for the entire Northern Hemisphere, the National Geographic Institute (IGN) confirmed yesterday.

Spring is calculated to last almost 93 days until the arrival of summer on 21st June.
According to an internationally-recognised Astronomic Convention, the change of seasons is marked by the momentary juxtaposition of the Earth in relation to the sun during its 365 day orbit.

Spring is the season of the year when the days lengthen most rapidly. The sun rises every morning nearly two minutes earlier than it did the day before and in the evening, it takes a minute later each day to set. Hence the time the sun is above the horizon increases nearly three minutes each day.

The clocks change, as is traditionally the case, on the final Sunday in March, which this year will be the 27th. At 2am local time, the clocks will go forward an hour to 3am, meaning that the 27th will be an hour short.

Throughout spring this year, astronomical phenomenae are expected including eclipses on 1st and 15th June. The first will be a partial eclipse of the sun, visible in East Asia and in the most northerly extremes of North America and Europe. The second will be a total eclipse of the moon. It will be completely visible in the furthest eastern regions of Spain - the Mediterranean coast and in the Balearics.

The IGN also recommends “keeping an eye on” the night sky around the dates of the new moon which this year are on 3rd April, 3rd May and 1st June.
The first full moon of spring will be on 18th April and there will be another two before the arrival of summer, on 17th May and 15th June.
So far as meteorite showers are concerned, the most significant say the IGN are the “Eta Acuáridas” which will be at their height on 5th May.
Spring will also mean that some planets will be visible at dawn, namely Venus, Mars, Uranus and Saturn. Saturn will also be visible all night long at the start of spring and on 3rd April, the planet will reach its closest position to the Earth.

Constellation watchers should focus on the area around the Polar star where the IGN claim they will be able to see Ursa Minor (the Little Bear), the Dragon, and Leo throughout the night.