(SOUTHERN COLORADO) — As you’ve probably noticed by now, we are starting to see days get a little longer. In fact, our sunset time over the past weekend started at 5:30 p.m., which is good news for those of you who enjoy the longer days.
Believe it or not, we actually saw our days start to get longer as of the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, where we saw about one minute gain every day in our sunset time.
The reason for the shift in daytime hours all has to do with the angle of the Earth as it moves in an elliptical path around the sun. During the Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere (where we are here in Southern Colorado) is at its farthest point away from the sun. During the Summer Solstice on June 20, the Northern Hemisphere is the closest. In the time that the sun moves farther or closer to the sun, we gain more or less daylight.
During the Summer Solstice, Southern Colorado will see the most daylight of the year with a total of 14 hours, 53 minutes, and 26 seconds on that day. We then decrease daylight as the Northern Hemisphere gradually moves away from the sun until the Winter Solstice, where we see our least amount of daylight of the year at 9 hours, 26 minutes, and 43 seconds.
The part between each solstice is called Equinoxes; one happens during the spring on March 19 and the other falls on Sept. 22.
So, does that make sunrise and sunset exactly 12 hours apart on an Equinox? Not exactly.
The dates on which each day and night are each 12 hours, occur a few days before and after the equinoxes. The specific dates these happen are for different latitudes because the sun’s rays hit differently, based on the path of the Earth. If you are closer to the equator you are more likely to see that 12-hour day on the Equator on March 19, the day of the Equinox. As you move farther north or south, that time shifts to a little earlier.
For Southern Colorado, you will see 12 hours of sunlight on March 16.
To figure out all of these dates and times for sunrise and sunset, actually involves a lot of math, knowledge of latitudes and longitudes, sun angles, etc. To make it easier, FOX21 Storm Team Meteorologist Megan Montero, went and crunched the numbers to figure out when our sunset times are and what it will look like at 6 p.m.
As you can see, in March and April we will have more daylight at 6 p.m. but we will still be in sunset mode at that point. By May, we should see more sunlight by 6 p.m.