It may have been below zero this week with the winter solstice only a week away. But there’s a ray of good news in the sunsets coming our way.
It’s nothing to get spring fever over, but we’re about to reverse gears and start seeing a little bit more of the afternoon sun each day starting Monday. That feels at least a little warming.
You see, when it comes to sunsets, we’re stuck in neutral this week. And getting stuck is good because since the first week in July, sunset has come a little earlier each day, stealing a little of early evening a minute at a time.
But now, for nine straight days along longitude 91.5W, sunset has bottomed out at 4:21 p.m. On Monday, it flips over to 4:22 p.m. What’s even better, somewhere in the middle of the nine days stuck in neutral, the afternoons must be getting longer.
It’s hard to split sun rays, and I’ve tried without success to find the sunset breakdown in minutes and seconds for an exact location. But logic tells me the reversal happens halfway between the 4:21 p.m. times of Dec. 8-15.
Midway between longitudes 91W and 92W is Eau Claire. Draw a line straight north and you’ll run it through Bloomer and Hayward, and close to either side are Chippewa Falls, New Auburn, Chetek, Cameron and Rice Lake, all sharing the same sunset and sunrise times.
So, in the world of sunsets, we’re heading for spring. By New Year’s Eve, sunset stretches out to 4:30 p.m. Reason to celebrate.
The opposite, however, is happening in the morning as sunrises come later until early January. The combination of sunrise and sunset account for the least daylight of the year on the winter solstice of Dec. 21.
Perhaps my optimism over sunsets is a bit over the horizon. To balance matters out, run that 91.5W longitude line way south and you’ll run smack dab into Baton Rouge. I hear it’s lovely there this time of year.
Greschner is Rice Lake Chronotype sports editor.