When will the sun start setting later?

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(NEXSTAR) — For the last couple of weeks, the sun has been setting earlier and earlier. While daylight saving time is largely to blame (it did move sunset times up by a whole hour), where we are in our orbit also has an impact. 

So when will the sun stop setting so early?

It ultimately depends on where you live. Let’s explain. 

The Earth is on a tilt, as you probably know. That means there is a time when we’re tilted toward the sun, during summer, and a time when we’re tilted away from the sun, during winter. This gives us more hours of sunlight in summer and fewer in winter (in case you haven’t noticed).

We’re only a few weeks away from the “shortest” day of the year, December 22. Here in the U.S., we’ll experience the least amount of daylight hours on that day. 

While it may be a little depressing to think about being shrouded in even more darkness, early and mid-December mark a big turning point: the sun will start setting later across the U.S. 

In Chicago, for example, the sun has been setting before 4:30 since November 16. The city will see its earliest sunsets — 4:19 p.m., according to NOAA — on December 2 and 3. But after that, the sun will slowly start setting later in the day. 

By December 31, sunset will be at 4:29 p.m., NOAA reports. It’ll take until January 28 for sunsets to happen after 5 p.m.

The exact times will vary depending on where you live, of course. Here’s a look at the earliest upcoming sunset and when the timing starts trending in another direction for 21 U.S. cities, according to NOAA.

City Earliest Sunset When Sunsets Start Trending Later
Austin Nov. 27 (5:30 p.m.) Dec. 8 (5:31 p.m.)
Cincinnati Dec. 1 (5:07 p.m.) Dec. 15 (5:08 p.m.)
Denver Dec. 4 (4:35 p.m.) Dec. 12 (4:36 p.m.)
Green Bay Dec. 5 (4:12 p.m.) Dec. 15 (4:13 p.m.)
Hartford Dec. 3 (4:20 p.m.) Dec. 15 (4:21 p.m.)
Honolulu Nov. 21 (5:48 p.m.) Dec. 2 (5:49 p.m.)
Indianapolis Dec. 2 (5:20 p.m.) Dec. 14 (5:21 p.m.)
Las Vegas Nov. 29 (4:26 p.m.) Dec. 13 (4:27 p.m.)
Los Angeles Dec. 2 (4:43 p.m.) Dec. 8 (4:44 p.m.)
New Orleans Nov. 27 (5:00 p.m.) Dec. 8 (5:01 p.m.)
New York Dec. 7 (4:28 p.m.) Dec. 10 (4:29 p.m.)
Oklahoma City Nov. 30 (5:17 p.m.) Dec. 11 (5:18 p.m.)
Portland Dec. 6 (4:27 p.m.) Dec. 15 (4:28 p.m.)
Providence Dec. 2 (4:15 p.m.) Dec. 16 (4:16 p.m.)
Raleigh Nov. 29 (5:01 p.m.) Dec. 13 (5:02 p.m.)
Salt Lake City Dec. 2 (5:00 p.m.) Dec. 14 (5:01 p.m.)
San Francisco Nov. 29 (4:51 p.m.) Dec. 14 (4:52 p.m.)
Sioux Falls Dec. 7 (4:50 p.m.) Dec. 13 (4:51 p.m.)
St. Louis Dec. 3 (4:39 p.m.) Dec. 11 (4:40 p.m.)
Tampa Nov. 24 (5:34 p.m.) Dec. 9 (5:35 p.m.)
Washington, D.C. Dec. 2 (4:46 p.m.) Dec. 13 (4:47 p.m.)
All times local

You can see your sunset times using NOAA’s Solar Calculator, seen here. You can either click on one of the pre-marked cities on the map, drag the red pin to your location, or input your latitude and longitude below the map. Then, click the “Create Sunrise/Sunset Tables for the Year” button. 

Just because the sun is staying up later doesn’t mean the days are getting much longer. In Chicago, for example, the sun has been rising before 7 a.m. since daylight saving time ended in early November. But every day since, the sun has been rising about a minute later than the day before. By November 30, the sun will be rising at 6:57 a.m.

This trend will continue until early January, with the latest rising time being 7:18 a.m. Then, sunrises will begin shifting earlier, coming up as early as 6:12 a.m. on March 9, just before daylight saving time begins, pushing sunrise past 7 a.m. again. 

Would getting rid of daylight saving time make the situation any better? It depends on what you prefer. 

If the entire U.S. remained on standard time year-round (the time we’re on now), the sun would rise much earlier in the summer. In Chicago, for example, the earliest sunrise is at 5:15 a.m. in early June. If we never “sprung ahead” onto daylight saving time, that sunrise would happen at 4:15 a.m. Around the same time, the sun sets at 8:24 p.m. but on permanent standard time, the sun would set at 7:24 p.m., squashing the extra time to enjoy summer activities. 

On permanent daylight saving time (the time between March and November), the sun would be setting after 5 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. during this time of year. But during these colder winter months, the sun wouldn’t rise until after 8 a.m.

There are efforts to transition the U.S. to permanent daylight saving time, but only time will tell if those changes will be made.

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