Why Isn't The Earliest Sunset On Dec. 21?

Tools

By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - Have you noticed that the sunsets stop getting earlier a week or so ahead of the "shortest day of the year" on or around Dec. 21 -- the day you'd think would have the earliest sunset?

The answer is that our way of keeping time assumes constants that aren't exactly constant. Earth's path around the sun isn't a circle, it's an ellipse. We orbit faster around the sun in winter when we're closest, and slowest when were furthest away in summer.

These little changes mean the sun is not at its highest point in the sky when we say it's noon -- it can be off a few minutes.

Check out this article below for even more details -- imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov

Your Photos

YouNews Chasing Rainbow. (New) Chasing Rainbow.
While I was busy working, suddenly I turned my head towards the window to see a perfect rainbow and a cruise ship moving fast towards it. Frantically I grabbed my camera and ran to the balcony to take the shot just when the ship appeared to be entering the rainbow.
YouNews Seattle Couple Embraces Seattle Storm (New) Seattle Couple Embraces Seattle Storm
A lot of guests had trouble getting to Nick and Jane's wedding, but there seemed to be a magical bubble around the wedding itself - sunny and only a few big gusts while safe in the church... until well into the cozy inside Broadmoor Golf Club reception.
YouNews Coudy and windy afternoon (New) Coudy and windy afternoon
I took this photo this afternoon at Kerry Park. It was windy, cloudy and a few drizzles falling at times.