Vernal Equinox Ride March 20
Waning Gibbous Moon above David M. Brown Planetarium, 2016.

Vernal Equinox Ride
Sunday, March 20, 2022
7:30-9:00 PM EDT
Westover Branch Library
1644 North McKinley Road #3
Arlington, VA 22205
free in-person, outdoor event

Join the Friends and BikeArlington for an evening bike ride celebrating the Vernal Equinox from 7:30 to 9:00 PM EDT on Sunday, March 20. The ride will be slow-paced and social so we can enjoy twilight with stops along the way to talk about astronomy and observe the night sky. However, be prepared to pedal uphill for the best stargazing. Friends' President Jennifer Bartlett and volunteer James Toomey will explain about vernal equinox and how the changing seasons influenced the development of our modern calendar. As they do so, David Balick of BikeArlington will lead us on an out-and-back bike ride. We will depart from and return to Westover Branch Library. At the middle of the ride, the sky should be sufficiently dark to stargaze from Tuckahoe Elementary School. Jennifer, James, and David welcome children and adults for this spring ride.

On March 20, sunset will be at 7:20 PM EDT but the waning gibbous Moon will not rise until 10:12 PM EDT. Civil twilight will last until 7:45 PM EDT while nautical twilight will persist until 8:18 PM EDT. We will enter astronomical twilight at 8:50 PM EDT just before the ride concludes. While we consider March 20 the vernal equinox, the Sun will cross the celestial equator at 11:33 AM EDT. Curious about these terms and times? Definitely, come learn with us.

Jennifer Bartlett is a professor of Physics at the U. S. Naval Academy and a professional astronomer. From 2009–2021, she computed astronomical phenomena, including sunset times and lunar phases, for the US Naval Observatory. A long-time Arlington resident, she attended the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. Her son now attends Kenmore Middle School.

LCDR James E. Toomey, IV, is a U. S. Coast Guard officer currently assigned to the Pentagon. He is a recent graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, where he completed research as a Schriever Space Scholar and earned a Master's in Military Operational Art and Science. His previous military assignments include Operations Officer onboard the Arctic Icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter HEALY, and as a Physics and Astronomy instructor at the U. S> Coast Guard Academy. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Astronomy from the University of Iowa. In addition, he is an avid biker. The Friends are delighted to have him join us during his Washington-area tour.

The Friends are excited about this opportunity to collaborate with BikeArlington. BikeArlington educates and encourages residents to choose bicycles for getting around town and for the sheer joy of biking. It is part of Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS), which encourage active transportation choices to improve our community.

Participation in this event is free but registration is required. Please click here to sign up via Eventbrite.

For your safety, the Friends will comply with all local guidelines regarding outdoor events of this nature. Volunteer staff will be fully vaccinated. Although masks are not required, individual participants may choose to wear one based on their personal circumstances.

What to Bring

In addition to your bike, please bring your helmet and lights. BikeArlington will have some helmets and lights for those who do not have them. Friends of the David M. Brown Planetarium can loan some binoculars, but you are also encouraged to bring your own.

Weather Cancelation Policy

In case of rain, the ride will be canceled. No rain date is scheduled. We will look for future opportunities to collaborate with BikeArlington this summer.