See you next year, 8:30 p.m. sunset

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester’s 8:30 p.m. sunset Monday was something of a milestone.

Whether you’ve realized it or not, our days have been getting shorter.

With earlier and earlier sunsets over the next few months, we won’t see an 8:30 pm sunset again until May 18th of NEXT YEAR. Bummer, huh?

Many people associate the summer season with long days and late sunsets. That’s true, but not many realize the first day of summer is actually our longest day of the year.

Starting with day 2 of summer, we’re losing daylight. It’s subtle at first, on the order of a few seconds, but the bleed intensifies into mid and late summer as we start losing daylight in several minute chunks each day.

Our quantity of daylight (and the reason we have seasons, for that matter) revolve around the fact our planet is tilted on it’s axis. This tilt allows various points of Earth to experience more vs. less daylight, including how direct those rays are.

On the summer solstice, the sun’s rays are at their northernmost point with respect to the equator. For us in the northern hemisphere, that means more warmth and longer days. For our friends on the other half of the globe, this corresponds to their winter solstice and the cold and dark that comes with it.

Each day after the solstice, the sun’s rays are now retreating back southward. This stands up with the fact we’re losing daylight all summer long.

One might ask why our temperatures don’t follow suit. The start of summer is often NOT the hottest part. While the sun’s rays are retreating after day 1 of summer, there is still a net positive of incoming energy. This in conjunction with the fact that it takes time for land and water to heat up (a lag, if you will) results in the hottest weather generally occurring 1-2 months after the solstice.

It is for this reason the peak of hurricane season (warmest ocean water) occurs more toward Fall. Water, in particular, takes a long time to both acquire and lose heat energy.

So for now, we enjoy what are still relatively late sunsets. After the time change in early November, our sun will start setting before 5 pm. Winter won’t be far off from there…

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