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Colorado: Approaching the winter solstice

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Winter sun. Bob Berwyn photo.

Tuesday’s sunset the earliest of the year; afternoons will start getting longer on Dec. 12

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you’re tired of the sun setting behind the western mountains in the middle of the afternoon, fear not, there’s some relief in sight. As of today (Dec. 4) the sun has completed its southward peregrination along the western horizon, which means the afternoons won’t get any shorter.

For the next few days, the sun will set at nearly the same spot at 4:40 p.m. Then, starting Dec. 12, it will start to set a little bit later each day. By December 31, sunset will be a full 10 minutes later, at 4:50 p.m.

But even though sunset won’t be any earlier, the days will continue to get shorter for the next couple of weeks, through the winter solstice on Dec. 21. That’s because the sun will rise later each morning, by nearly one minute every day all the way past the solstice and through the end of December.

Right now, the sunrise in Frisco is at 7:09 a.m. but it will be as late as 7:25 a.m. on Dec. 31. It will continue to rise at 7:25 a.m. through Jan. 11, when it will start to rise about 1 minute earlier each day. By the end of January, the days will be nearly an hour longer, with sunrise at 7:13 a.m. and sunset at 5:22 p.m.

Based on the combination of sunrise and sunset times, the day of the solstice on Dec. 21 still marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year, and the day when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky.

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