Gaining and losing daylight in December

Posted at 4:59 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 18:59:41-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — December is an interesting time of the year when it comes to the sun. The sun rises much later in the morning and sets much earlier in the evening. All indications that the winter solstice is near!

Many people believe the latest sunrise and earliest sunset times occur on the day of the winter solstice. This is not true! A closer look at sunrise and sunset times reveals a different story.

In Tucson, we actually see our earliest sunset times during the first week of December. Our latest sunrise times occur the first week of January. All of this averages out to Dec. 21 as being the day with the least amount of daylight. So, we actually start gaining daylight in the afternoons before we reach the solstice. However, we’re still losing daylight in the morning until the first week of January.

It’s interesting to note that we actually gain about seven minutes of afternoon daylight from the first week of December to Christmas. From Christmas to the first week of January, we lose an additional three minutes of daylight in the morning.

Those who pay close attention will notice the sun going down later by the time Christmas arrives. By the time we get to mid-January, we will start gaining daylight at a faster rate as we work our way back to spring.