Solar asymmetry

The area in which I live had the earliest sunset of the year today. How can this be, you ask, when the shortest day of the year is still almost two weeks away? I wondered the same thing and I am delighted to learn something new about the planet Earth. It seems the days do not grow shorter in a symmetrical manner.

The earliest sunset here in Ottawa is a two-way tie between yesterday and today. The latest sunrise, on the other hand, occurs in the first week of January. Beginning tomorrow, the sunset will slowly start to get later in the day (tomorrow’s sunset will be three seconds later than today’s), but the sunrise is still getting later as a much faster pace tomorrow’s sunrise will be 53 seconds later than today’s). Things will equalize on the solstice and then they’ll begin separating again.

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