Winter in Chicago: What may surprise you about the dark days of December

Winter in Chicago: What may surprise you about the dark days of December

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” — John Steinbeck

No it’s not your imagination Chicago did have more afternoon daylight yesterday (December 11) than we did on Saturday (December 10).

Even though, the shortest day of the year—meaning the day with the least daylight—commonly referred to as the winter solstice is still ten days off on December 21, the afternoon daylight hours are increasing.

The earliest sunset of 2016 is history. It happened on December 5th at 4:19 pm. Since then we’ve gained a minute of afternoon daylight.

And the trend continues.

Sunset is now occurring a full minute and some seconds later at 4:20 pm. By December 19th it will have leaped ahead another minute to 4:21 pm. 

On December 21st–winter solstice 2016 in the Northern Hemisphere– sunset in Chicago will occur at 4:23 pm.

By Christmas Day, we can enjoy even more afternoon/evening daylight–until 4:25 pm.

By the end of the month that will have stretched to 4:30 pm.

Summer sunrise on Lake Michigan. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Summer sunrise on Lake Michigan. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The sun, on the other hand, is sleeping in. The latest sunrise for the Chicago area occurs at 7:18 am. on December 28th and continues right into the New Year until the trend reverses on January 10th when the sun resets its alarm for 7:17 am.

By the end of January, the sun will rise at 7:04 am. and set at 5:05 pm. giving us our first 10 hours plus of daylight since November 9th.

This all has to do with the angle of the earth to the sun. 

For a simple explanation on how it works, check out this Wikipedia post. …and don’t forget to celebrate today’s extra minute of afternoon daylight.

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