Tampa’s last earliest sunset of 2021 happens Friday

Weather

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Friday marks the last day of the earliest sunset of the year.

The sun sets at 5:33 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2021. After that date, the sunset time slowly begins to push back later and later until the latest sunset of the year in late June.

This cycle happens year after year when our days get longer and shorter through the seasons thanks to the tilt of the earth and the sun angle getting higher and lower in the sky.

The cycle happens as follows every year with the dates only fluctuating by a day so from year to year.

The latest sunset in Tampa happens at 8:30 p.m. ET from June 27 to July 5. Every day after July 5, the sunset slowly gets earlier and earlier. At first, it happens very slowly with the sunsets getting earlier each day by only a few seconds before it’s about a minute or so earlier each day later in the year.

Of course we anticipate the time change, with the sunset jumping from 6:42 p.m. EDT to 5:42 p.m. EST in early November. However, the sunsets will continue to get earlier until Nov. 28, when the sunset occurs at 5:33 p.m. Sunset will hold steady for several days until Dec. 4. Then, on Dec. 4, the time begins to push back once again, albeit slowly, each day through June when the cycle repeats again.

This is not to be confused with the daylight length. Although it follows a similar cycle, it is off by a couple of weeks.

Even though the sunset times will begin to get later each day, the length of daylight doesn’t get longer yet. The sunrise time is still getting later and later each morning faster than we push back the sunset in the evening.

The day with the shortest amount of daylight is Dec. 21, the winter solstice, or the first day of winter. The first day of winter has less than 10 and a half hours of daylight.

After that, the length of daylight grows a little each day with the sunset time getting later now faster than the sunrise time gets later. While the sunset time retreats, the sunrise time is still getting later each day.

The latest sunrise time in Tampa occurs at 7:22 a.m. from Jan. 6 to Jan. 17.

The reason for the discrepancy is simply the definition of a sunrise and sunset. sunset is defined when the very top of the sun dips below the horizon and sunrise is when the very top of the sun pokes above the horizon. If the definition of these related to the center of the sun instead of the top, the cycles would be the same.

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