Earliest outings before the summer solstice Tonight

Top of the post: Sunrise in June, Sea Bright, New Jersey, via Steve Scanlon Photography.

For the northern hemisphere: June is a great month for an early morning walk. The light of dawn is beautiful. In mid-northern latitudes in the northern hemisphere, your earliest outings of the year are happening right now. This is despite the fact that the northern summer solstice – and the longest day of this hemisphere – occurred about a week later.

For the southern hemisphere: If you enjoy daylight, like many others, you will be glad to know that your sunsets will soon move on later! The earliest sunsets years are held for those in the middle latitudes of the southern hemisphere. This is although the winter solstice – the shortest day in the south – is not for the second week.

Pink clouds under the glowing white sky reflected in the still water.

Early sunrise in Sweden via Per Ola Wiberg.

The exact date of the earliest sunrise (and the earliest sunset) varies depending on latitude. At 40 degrees north latitude – latitude, say, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, the Mediterranean and northern Japan – the earliest release of the year occurs on or near June 14. For the same latitude, the latest sunset of the year falls on or near June 27. Meanwhile, the longest day of the year – the day that contains the most daylight, comes to the solstice on June 20 or 21 (depending on the time zone).

The same is true for other latitudes of the northern hemisphere. The dates of the earliest and most recent sunsets do not exactly coincide with the solstice. Noticeably south of the latitude of Philadelphia, the earliest sunrise has already passed (late May or early June), and the most recent sunset sets later (sometimes in July). For example, in Hawaii, the earliest sunrise precedes the June solstice by about two weeks, and the latest sunset comes about two weeks after. Slightly further north, the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset occur closer to the June solstice. Check at your latitude, using the links on our almanac page.

The earliest sunrises are coming before summer solstice because the day at this time of year is longer than 24 hours. The earliest sunsets of the year come in the southern hemisphere before winter solstice for the same reason.

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The orange-yellow sunrise under the dark blue sky was reflected in the water.

Look bigger. |. | June sunrise over Currituck, North Carolina. Painting by Greg Diesel Walck – lunar / landscape photographer.

In June, the day (measured by the successive return of the midday sun) is almost 1/4 minute longer than 24 hours. Therefore, the midday sun (solar noon) comes later in time on the June solstice than it was a week earlier. Therefore, sunrise and sunset times also come later by the hour, as explained in the tables below.

For Philadelphia (40 degrees north latitude)

Date Sunrise Noon (Solar noon) Sunset Daylight
June 14 05:31 13:01 20:30 14h 59m 43s
June 21 05:32 13:02 20:32 15h 00m 36s

For Valdivia, Chile (40 degrees south latitude)

Date Sunrise Noon (Solar noon) Sunset Daylight
June 14 8:12 am 12:53 17:34 9h 21m 49s
June 21 8:14 12:54 pm 17:35 9h 20m 38s

Source: timeanddate.com.

The primary reason for the earliest sunrise preceding the summer solstice (and the earliest sunset preceding the winter solstice) is the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis. The earliest sunrise or sunset would occur before the solstice, even if the Earth orbited the sun in a circular orbit.

However, the elliptical trajectory of the Earth affects the severity of the phenomenon. During the June solstice, the Earth is in its orbit quite close to the aphelion – its furthest point from the Sun – which diminishes the effect. At the December solstice, the Earth is quite close to the perihelion – its closest point to the sun – which emphasizes it.

At mid-latitudes, the earliest sunrise / sunset comes about a week before the June summer / winter solstice, and the most recent sunset / sunrise about a week after the June solstice.

However, at the end of the year, at mid-latitudes, the earliest sunset / sunrise comes out about two weeks before the December winter / summer solstice, and the latest sunrise / sunset about two weeks after the December solstice.

A foggy orange scene with trees below and the sun through the fog above.

Early sunrise by Flickr user Rafal Ziebe.

Conclusion: Are you an early riser? If that’s the case – if you live in the northern hemisphere – you may know that your earliest outings of the year are happening now. Southern Hemisphere? Now are your earliest sunsets.

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