March 20, 2020
Day 80 of 366
March 20th is the eightieth day of the year. It is the International Day of Happiness, a United Nations-sponsored day to advance happiness as a fundamental human right. It is also National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the United States, designed to increase knowledge and education about the one percent of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS who are among the American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
Historical items of note:
- In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was established.
- In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. This anti-slavery novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery, and it helped lay the groundwork for the American Civil War.
- In 1915, Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity.
- In 1922, the USS Langley (CV-1) was commissioned as the first United States Navy aircraft carrier.
- In 1928, Fred Rogers was born. He was the creator, host, and producer of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood for its entire run from 1968 to 2001. If you have the chance, learn all about his extraordinary life in the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
- In 1937, author Lois Lowry was born. She won Newbery Medals for Number the Stars and The Giver.
- In 1948, actor John de Lancie was born. Among other roles, he was Q in the Star Trek franchise.
- In 1950, actor William Hurt was born.
- In 1957, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Spike Lee was born.
- In 1958, actress and producer Holly Hunter was born.
- In 1963, actor David Thewlis was born.
- In 1979, actress Freema Agyeman was born. She portrayed Martha Jones in Doctor Who.
- In 1986, Ruby Rose was born. She portrays Batwoman on the CW show of the same name.
- In 1987, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the anti-AIDS drug, AZT.
- In 1999, Legoland California opened in Carlsbad, California. It was the first Legoland outside of Europe.
- In 2015, a Solar eclipse, equinox, and a Supermoon all occurred on the same day.
In 2015, a solar eclipse, an equinox, and a supermoon all occurred on the same day.
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, effectively obscuring the Sun from an Earth-bound observer’s point of view. Since the Moon is closer to the planet, it appears to be larger than the Sun. This solar eclipse’s totality – when the Moon appears to completely cover the Sun – lasted two minutes and forty-seven seconds, and the path of totality passed over the North Pole. It was the last total solar eclipse visible in Europe until the forecasted eclipse of August 12, 2026.
As mentioned on March 19’s post, the vernal equinox is the day when the duration of night and day are equal and the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator. On the Gregorian calendar, this can occur between March 19th and March 21st, and it typically marks the transition of seasons from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere and summer to autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
A supermoon is a full or new moon that nearly coincides with the perigee – the closest that the Moon comes to the Earth in its orbit – so that it looks larger-than-normal to an Earth-bound observer. The proper (technical) name is perigee syzygy, but supermoon sounds cooler for the general populace. The term also comes from astrology. In 2015, the supermoon was a new moon, so it appeared dark in the night sky.
Personally, I think syzygy – pronounced ˈsizijē, meaning a conjuction or pair of connected things – is much more fun to say.
Witnessing all three events at the same time isn’t unusual in of itself, but the confluence of events is fun to talk and learn about, especially if you’re lucky enough to be in the path of solar eclipse totality.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.