By the time you leave work, hit the grocery store, find dinner and eventually get settled in for the evening, you may have noticed something slightly different around here. The sun is setting earlier and it is now noticeable. In fact, our last 8 p.m. sunset occurs this weekend in Tampa Bay and it will be our last 8 p.m. sunset until the end of April of next year!
If you're itching for the fall season, this is our first glimpse of what's ahead. I mean you're not the only one. Pumpkin spice coffee is already out and some of our retail shops have been displaying Halloween decorations since last month.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. We are still in the thick of summer, the heart of rainy season and a couple months of hurricane season to get through.
It may surprise some of you that we have already lost an hour of daylight since the summer solstice on June 21 and at this rate, we are losing roughly 90 seconds of daylight per day. Tampa receives its greatest loss of daylight per day around the time of the Fall Equinox with nearly 100 seconds per day.
The Fall Equinox, on September 23, is the day when we receive nearly equal amounts of daylight and darkness. This is when the sun’s rays are perpendicular to the equator, marking the first day of autumn for the northern hemisphere. The Fall Equinox is when we tip the scale and Tampa Bay will receive more hours in the dark than in the sun.
The loss of daylight continues all the way into December when we reach the Winter Solstice. The winter solstice is when the sun is perpendicular to the Tropic of Capricorn — located 23.5 degrees south. This also marks the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere which is on December 21.
During the Winter Solstice, Tampa receives its least amount of daylight — a whopping 10 hours and 22 minutes. Our sunrise occurs at 7:17 am and sets at 5:39 pm.
If you think that is rough, try Chicago with 9 hours and 7 minutes of daylight, or Caribou, ME with just 8 hours and 31 minutes of daylight. It gets better. Fairbanks, AK only receives 3 hours and 41 minutes of daylight on the winter solstice. If you lived in Utqiagvik, AK, previously known as Barrow AK, the sun doesn’t even rise at all. In fact, Utqiagvik, AK is left in total darkness for more than two months!
Don’t worry. The length of our daylight starts to increase the day following the Winter Solstice.