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The Latest Sunrise of the Year Isn’t the Winter Solstice

15 Dec 2017, 4:50 pm

Pump the brakes.
The earliest sunset isn’t the winter solstice either!

Have I been lied to my whole life?

The Shortest Day

The lie doesn’t go that deep.

The shortest day of the year is, in fact, the winter solstice. Even though the latest sunrise and earliest sunset don’t occur on the solstice, it apparently doesn’t matter when it comes to the length of the day.

The reason it doesn’t matter is pretty lame.

Splitting Hairs

The reason sunrise and sunset times don’t really matter is because they only differ by a matter of seconds each day.

Since the earliest sunset occurs before the solstice, and the latest sunrise occurs after– it works out so the shortest day of the year is the solstice.

For an example, let’s use Denver:

  • Earliest sunset is 4:35 pm and happens in the first week of December.
  • Latest sunrise is 7:21 am and happens in the first week of January.

Now, on the solstice, the sun rises at 7:17 am and sets at 4:38 pm. Giving us a whopping total of 9 hours, 21 minutes, and 1 seconds of daylight.

It’s only a couple seconds different than the surrounding days. But that couple seconds makes it our solstice!

But Why?

Science!

You see, the earth isn’t perfectly upright and its orbit isn’t a perfect circle. Because of this, a day isn’t a perfect 24 hours.

Days are actually longer than 24 hours around the summer and winter solstices, and shorter than 24 hours around the spring and fall equinoxes.

Because the length of day is actually changing throughout the year we still get the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice. Even though the latest sunrise is after the solstice and earliest sunset before.

How do flat earth believers explain international flights?

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

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