Ecuador and the Equator

March 20, 2009


Photographer: Kelsey Martenson
Summary Author: Kelsey Martenson, Jim Foster, Stu Witmer

The photo above shows a view of the "Mitad del Mundo" or "Middle of the World" landmark which stands on the equator in the appropriately named country of Ecuador. At noon on an equinox day of March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23, the Sun is directly above the Earth’s equator. Today, March 20, at precisely 11:44 Universal Time (7:44 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time), the Sun crosses over the equator. This marks the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. Equinox means "equal night" and is the time of the year when days and nights are of equal length over the entire globe. It’s only because the Earth is tilted on its axis that we experience different seasons and days with more or less than 12 hours of daylight. As you can see from the shadows here, this photo wasn’t taken at noon, nor was it taken at the vernal or autumnal equinox. It was snapped in mid January 2009. At this spot in Ecuador, the longitude is 78 degrees, 27 minutes and 8 seconds, and of course the latitude is 0 degrees, 0 minutes and 0 seconds. In actuality, the monument above is a bit off (about 150 m or 492 ft) the position the true equator.