TAMPA (WFLA) – Friday marks the last day of our sunsets in Tampa Bay happening later than 8 p.m.
This means we’re on our way toward the fall equinox and eventually the winter solstice, or the shortest day of the year.
As the sun rises later and sets earlier, we’re losing daylight at a solid pace of almost a minute and a half per day which adds up. By the time we reach the winter solstice on Dec. 21, we’ll only see 10 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds of daylight. That’s compared to just under 14 hours of daylight on June 21, the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year.
Longer days obviously mean more sunshine and more sunshine means warmer temperatures. But shorter days mean cooler temperatures, which is part of the reason why as we head into winter, our average highs and lows get colder. Don’t worry, it’s gradual and temperatures will stay hot and humid in typical Florida fashion through the next month or so but days will continue to get shorter and the sun will continue to set earlier each day.
Factor in the time change and our earliest sunset in Tampa is at 5:33 p.m. from Nov. 29 through Dec. 3.
Now, the farther north you go, the earlier the sun sets during the winter. This has to do with the tilt of the earth and our orbit around the sun. During winter, the north pole points farther away from the sun. The sun’s rays more directly shine on Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere and sit lower in our sky.
During the northern hemisphere’s summer, the north pole points towards the sun, resulting in longer days and those warmer temps with the sun over the Tropic of Cancer.
If you go far enough north, the sun never sets for a portion of our summer. On the other hand, during a portion of our winter, the sun never rises.
Regardless, we’ll always come full circle.
After we pass the winter solstice on Dec. 22, the days will begin to get longer yet again.