Winter doesn’t officially arrive until 11:19pm EST, so why has the Sun already begun to set a little later each evening?
It all has to do with the way we keep time.
It’s true that the Winter Solstice generally marks the shortest amount of daylight for us here in the Northern Hemisphere.
Our clocks and watches keep each day at exactly (or at least very close to) 24 hours.
We would expect 12 noon to be when the Sun is directly overhead. 24 hours later, we would expect the Sun to return to the same position above us.
That’s one day right?
But the Sun doesn’t follow such strict rules. Some days are a little longer than 24 hours and some are a little less.
That’s because of Earth’s tilt and the fact that our orbit around the Sun isn’t a perfect circle.
Never look directly at the Sun, but if you could, you would notice that the Sun is directly overhead one minute later today than it was on Thursday.
Tomorrow, it will be another minute later. This has been happening for a few days.
This later ‘high noon’ accounts for the later sunset, EVEN THOUGH the Sun has continued to rise later each day and will continue to do so until the end of the month!
Our clocks can’t handle this discrepancy. They just continue to tick away at 24 hours each day. It sounds very complicated and it is, in a way.
All you have to know is:
1.) winter officially begins tonight at 11:19pm EST
2.) the Sun is already setting later because our clocks don’t reflect true solar time
3.) the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice, is generally (but not technically) considered to have the shortest amount of daylight in the year.
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