STEM Behind Groundhog Day


Happy Groundhog Day! 

Since 1886, Groundhog Day has been celebrated by many. For those that aren’t familiar with the tradition here’s what it’s all about! 

The tradition is celebrated on February 2nd every year in Canada and the United States. It originated from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition. The Groundhog’s scientific name is Marmota Monax and is part of the rodent family. The original Groundhog was named Punxsutawney Phil. If the groundhog doesn’t see it’s shadow, then we are to expect the arrival of Spring soon! However, if it sees it’s shadow, we will have winter for another 6 weeks. There is no scientific evidence as to whether or not the event is true, but it is a fun celebration for all ages to follow!


On the celestial calendar, Groundhog Day is a “cross-quarter day”. This means that it falls in-between Solstices and Equinoxes. A solstice takes place when the Earth is tilted on the axis as far away from the sun as possible. This happens in the Summer and Winter. An equinox is a little bit different. They occur in the Fall and Spring when there is almost an equal amount of daylight and darkness in all regions on Earth. This happens because the Earth is facing neither towards or away from the sun.

The tilt is also what causes Earth to experience seasons. Earth completes a full rotation around the Sun every 365 days, or one year. The weather is dictated depending on the amount of Sun each region on Earth sees.

Today, about 40 000 people still gather at the largest Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.