Earliest sunset

So which day of the year has the earliest sunset time? It isn't the winter solstice - December 21st/22nd - in case that was your guess. Using the USNO calculator, I reckon the earliest sunset in Cheshire (UK) is 15:50 GMT on 13th December (the days either side have the same time so I took the mean). So why should the earliest sunset not be on the shortest day? This is all because the axis of rotation of the Earth is tilted with respect to the Sun and the Earth travels in an elliptical orbit. It is very complicated to think about and John Holtz has a good page explaining it.

By the way, for those that care about these things, the Winter solstice for 2006 it

is at 00:22 on the 22nd December
.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 11th Dec 2006 (14:40 CET) | Permalink
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