INDIANA – Fall is on the way and our days are getting shorter as winter approaches.
Trees are turning to brilliant colors, marking the time for hot cocoa and warm coats.
On Thursday, we will have 13 hours and 37 minutes of sunlight. The sun will set at 8:36 p.m.
By the end of August, we will only have 13 hours and 5 minutes of sunlight. On average we lose 130 seconds of daylight each day.
The first day of Fall is September 2. There will only be 12 hours and 9 minutes of sunshine.
We change the clocks back on Sunday, November 6, 2022. We will continue to lose roughly two minutes of sunlight until the first day of Winter, on Wednesday, December 21. The first day of Winter will be the shortest day of the year, with only 9 hours and 21 minutes of sunlight.
To explain why days are longer in summer and shorter in winter, let’s first take a look at the two ways our planet is rotating all the time and the consequences behind it.
The Earth spins around its axis, or the imaginary line running through the North and South poles, every 24 hours. This means that at any given moment, one part of the planet is facing the sun and experiencing daytime, while the opposite side is not, and experiences nighttime. The Earth also orbits the sun, completing a revolution every 365.25 days.
Now, imagine a plane that connects the middle of the sun and of the Earth. If the axis of the planet was straight up and down at 90 degrees to this plane, the length of time each hemisphere spent facing the sun would always equal the length of time facing away. But this isn’t the case. Instead, the axis is tilted slightly, at 23.5 degrees to be exact.
This tilt is always pointed in the same direction in space, toward Polaris (the so-called North Star), even as the planet travels in a circle around the sun. This translates into the Northern hemisphere being closer to the sun (summer) or farther away (winter) throughout Earth’s yearly orbit.
Depending on where you are on the planet, the difference in the length of the day from season to season can be larger or smaller.
Dealing with shorter days
Dealing with shorter days is not an easy task, the changing day length has marked effects on your physical and mental health. Adjusting can be tough, but there are ways to make it easier.
- Exercise. There’s nothing that boosts the mood like endorphins. It’s the first line of defense against seasonal and clinal depression. Doing any sort of exercise can work wonders for your disposition. If you want to make the most of the daylight, the best bet is to find time for an outdoor workout during your lunch hour or early in the morning.
- Go to bed early and set up a routine. If you are going to wake up early to exercise you should discipline yourself to an earlier bedtime. Even if you’re not planning to wake up early for a workout, getting enough sleep is always important to keep you in a good mood and healthy mental state, but even more so in the winter with less sunlight.
- Plan a holiday once in a while. It might be good to get some summer somewhere south of the equator. If you need more sunlight, then plan a beach holiday for the darkest time of the year. Chilly places don’t necessarily mean dark places. You could plan a ski or snowboarding holiday out West in Colorado or Utah and still have to pack your sunscreen.
- Get outside, even when it’s cold. There’s no such thing as cold weather, only weather for which you haven’t dressed appropriately. You can still have lunch in the park or a morning run, even if it’s cold. Or even spend an evening with friends. We might feel like entering hibernation if it’s too cold, but that doesn’t have to be the case — we can still keep ourselves active throughout.