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Why Tampa Bay is lucky with early sunsets

Our fall and winter sunsets are some of the latest in the country.

Well, it’s back: Standard Time. Since we moved the clock back one hour in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the sun is rising and setting an hour earlier.

If you’re used to getting up in the dark in the mornings, maybe you’ve enjoyed the 6:40-something sunrise the last few days. But, that new sunset time in the 5:00 hour is odd and unwelcomed by many. And guess what, it’s about to get darker even earlier. Minute by minute, night by night. 

The earliest sunset of the year in Tampa actually falls at 5:33 p.m. on Dec. 1. Then, the sunset starts to get a little later each day. But, because of a later sunset each morning, the days actually grow shorter each day through Dec. 22, when daylight is only 10 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds. That’s almost 10 1/2 hours. 

It could be worse. Nashville, for example, only gets about 9 1/2 (9:41:54). Chicago just a little over 9 hours (9:07:46).  Fairbanks, Alaska, a university town, gets only a little more than 3 1/2 hours of daylight (3:41:38)! That’s a sunrise time of 10:58 am with the sun setting right away at 2:39 pm. 

The reason our daylight is so much longer than everyone else is we live a little closer to the equator. The closer to the equator you get, the longer your days are. Everyone who lives in Ecuador, which sits right on the equator, sees nearly a perfect 12 hours daylight and 12 hours of night every day of the year. 

Next up on our celestial calendar. Our days start getting longer on Dec 23. And, the first Sunday in March, we move those clocks back up an hour, bringing 7:30 sunsets back to Tampa Bay.

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