Sunrise, Sunset, and the discrepancy with the Winter Solstice
The “shortest” day of the year – the Winter Solstice – is today. We’ll see the least amount of daylight all year, with about 9 hours and 10 minutes between sunrise and sunset. But it’s not the latest sunrise, nor the earliest sunset.
The latest sunrise isn’t today, but at the end of the month. And the earliest sunset occurred back on December 1. So, while the time between them is the shortest today, their absolute timing drifts out of sync.
Because the solar day is not exactly 24 hours thanks to the Earth’s tilt and elliptical orbit.
JonDarr Bradshaw is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Great Lakes Science Center. He also serves as the Aerospace Education lead for the NASA Glenn Visitor Center at the science center. He says the lack of daylight is specific to the northern hemisphere time of year.
“This is actually summer in the southern hemisphere. For our friends down south, this is actually the longest day [in that] it has the most hours of daylight. This is something that we cover in school, but because we don't talk about it very much, we don't think of it too often. And it's not really a whole day. It's really an instant. Of course, in prehistoric times, people had all kinds of mythology that was involved with certain rituals for fertility and for agriculture and a number of things.”
Looking ahead, we’ll pick up two seconds of daylight tomorrow. By the end of January, we’ll crack 10 hours. And at the “longest” day of the year – the Summer Solstice on June 21 -- we’ll have more than 15 hours and 11 minutes of daylight.
“OH Really?” makes you part of the reporting process. Ask your question now.