Later sunrises; losing daylight through the fall

NOW: Later sunrises; losing daylight through the fall

Each year we start losing daylight after the summer solstice in June. You might only begin to notice it in the fall, when you're waking up and going to school or work in the dark.

On October 20, Michiana will get less than 11 hours of daylight. We're currently losing about two and a half minutes of daylight each day! This difference might seem small and unnoticeable, but it adds up quickly.

It might be most obvious when looking at sunrise and sunset times. The sunrise October 20 didn't happen until 8:03 a.m. The sun sets at 6:55 p.m. Fast forward to November 1; the sunrise will seem a bit earlier because Daylight Savings Time ends, but we'll still lose those 2.5 minutes. This also means the sun will set before 6 p.m. By November 15, we are down to just 9 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.

Besides losing daylight, the tilt of the Earth away from the sun can also impact temperatures. The sun angle helps describe the sun's position compared to the horizon. When the sun is directly overhead, it makes a 90 degree sun angle.

When the sun is higher in the sky, it has a higher sun angle. As the seasons change, it isn't possible for the sun to rise as high in the sky due to the Earth's tilt, so high sun angles aren't possible.

The highest sun angle in Michiana is about 72 degrees. This happens on the summer solstice (around June 21 each year).

Why does this matter? When the sun shines directly ahead, all its rays are directed at a specific area. As it shifts lower, the sunlight is less direct and spread over a larger portion of the Earth's surface. When spread like this, it doesn't feel as warm.

Our current (October 20) sun angle is about 38 degrees. The sun is much lower in the sky. We have shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures.

In Michiana, the highest sun angle is 72 degrees at the summer solstice. Recently we passed the autumn equinox, when the sun angle was around 48 degrees. Today, October 20, the sun angle is about 38 degrees. The sun angle decreases through the start of winter, when it gets to 25 degrees.

The falling sun angle can also shift the time of day where we hit our daytime high temperature. The high can happen earlier in the afternoon, compared to 4 or 5 p.m. over the summer. After reaching the high temperature for the day, temperatures tend to fall off more quickly in evenings compared to the autumn months.

Days will keep getting shorter and will continue trending cooler based on the sun. Make the most of the daylight-- if the sun is shining, go out and enjoy!

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