Now that the winter solstice has passed, we can look forward to a little more light each day. But surprisingly, the sun will continue to rise later in the mornings for a few more days, before reversing course and rising earlier again.
In a piece that uses London as an example (the phenomenon effects the entire Northern Hemisphere), the BBC explains that the later sunrises following solstice have to do with the fact that day length varies ever so slightly: “a day -- a solar day to be precise -- is not always exactly 24 hours,” the piece explains. In December, when the earth is at its furthest from the Sun and most tilted on its axis, days are about a minute longer than their shortest counterparts, in September.
The upshot? “The sun therefore in effect lags behind the clock for part of the year, then speeds ahead of it for another,” the BBC explains.
Mercifully, the lag won’t last long. The sun will rise at 10:15 (it rose at 10:14 on solstice) beginning Tuesday, Dec. 23, but will be back to 10:14 by Dec. 30.
And the light we’ve lost in the mornings we’ve already been gaining in the evenings. Anchorage saw its latest sunsets of the season Dec. 15-17 -- at 3:40 -- and they’ve been getting later even since.