February 25, 2024

Astronomical reason: The shortest day of the year was delayed

Short days, little light: The winter solstice is a relief for many, but it will take a long time this year.

Keystone

From today things are starting to get better again with more daylight? Rejoice prematurely. The shortest day of the year doesn’t come until tomorrow, and the last sunrise is still a long time away.

no time? Blue News sums it up for you

  • December 21 is usually considered the date of the winter solstice.
  • From then on, the short days of winter will become longer again.
  • This year, the winter solstice falls on December 22nd.
  • The last sunrise of the year also occurs in January.
  • There are astronomical reasons for both phenomena.

Gray skies and short days: The dark winter months take their toll on many people. The winter solstice is therefore a psychologically important event for many: the days are getting longer again and things are slowly moving towards spring.

In Switzerland, the winter solstice usually falls on December 21. But sometimes it is postponed and is held only on December 22. Just like this year, as if there wasn’t enough negative news already.

The closest sunset has already occurred

In fact, this year the sun will not reach its lowest altitude at midday until tomorrow, Friday. The reason the winter solstice doesn’t always occur on December 21 is simple: Earth takes longer than 365 days to orbit the sun, about six hours longer.

So the solstice moves back about six hours every year.

Dark clouds and little light: The winter months put psychological pressure on many.  (archive photo)
Dark clouds and little light: The winter months put psychological pressure on many. (archive photo)

sda

After all, we have already seen the nearest sunset behind us. This happened about ten days ago. To do this we have to keep waiting for the last sunrise. We won’t see this until January 1, 2024.

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Only 8 hours and 26 minutes of daylight

There are two reasons why the earliest sunset and most recent sunrise do not fall on the shortest day. On the one hand, the Earth does not revolve around the Sun in a circular orbit, but in an elliptical orbit. On the other hand, the Earth’s axis is not perpendicular to its orbit, e.g “SRF Meteorology” to explain.

Things will get better soon: the sun will rise early again from the beginning of January.
Things will get better soon: the sun will rise early again from the beginning of January.

Julian Stratensholt / German Press Agency

In Switzerland, the reality for most people currently looks like this: dark as a cow’s belly in the morning, dark in the evening. Tomorrow will last 8 hours and 26 minutes, which is the shortest day of the year.

But at least: after that, things get better slowly but surely. At first, the day becomes only a few seconds longer. But from the end of January, it will again be light for more than nine hours.

By the way: Because next year is a leap year and lasts 366 days, the astronomical winter of 2024 will begin again on December 21.