Tuesday, December 20

Longest Night and Winter Solstice Calculations

The exact time of the solstice is 12:35 PM PST tomorrow afternoon. (That's 18:35 UTC.) I think that makes tomorrow night the longest night of the year for us, but you can correct me on that if you know better than I do.

If you live in Alaska, however, tonight will be the longest night, since the solstice time for Alaskans is 11:35 AM, 25 minutes before noon, rather than 35 minutes after it, like ours is. Not that either of us would notice much difference, since the longest night is only 5 seconds or so longer than the preceding one or the one following.

However, no matter where you live in North America, tomorrow, December 21, is the date of the solstice. There are probably people in other parts of the world whose solstice day is the 20th, or maybe even the 22nd. You figure it out--I'm all tuckered out from doing my own time zone solstice math.[Update: Okay, I figured it out. (Now you see how obsessive I really am!) From about China eastward to the International Date Line (Zones F-M on the map), the solstice date is the 22nd. No one has it on the 20th this year, although some years that happens, but not often. It looks like 2008 is the next time the solstice will occur on the 20th, and only in a few time zones out in the Pacific.] And of course, for those in the southern hemisphere, it's the time of the longest day rather than the longest night.

Our sunrise tomorrow will be at 10:09 AM PST and sunset will be at 3:47 PM PST, giving us a whopping 5 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, and 18 hours and 22 minutes of night.

If you punch in your own zip code, airport code, or city at the Weather Underground, you can find out your own sunset and sunrise stats for the winter soltice. Here are the times for my town. [Update: You'll find them here, too, along with the weather report for the next few days. Thanks to StatGuy for pointing to this page.]

And don't tell me this stuff isn't fascinating!

(Off subject: Has anyone else accidently banned themselves from their own comments? Yep, when I tried to post a comment, I got this message: "Banned by webmaster. Your comments will not be added.")

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