The sun will hang in the sky a little later each day starting Wednesday, the first day after the winter solstice — the day of the year with the shortest daylight. Tuesday’s 5:17 p.m. sunset in Charleston gives way for today’s 5:18 p.m. time of sundown. By this time next month, the sun will set in the Holy City at 5:43 p.m.
The winter solstice occurs once a year on the first day of winter, when Earth’s poles are farthest from the sun. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs in December — while the summer solstice is happening down under. The summer solstice occurs when the poles are closest to the sun, and marks the longest daylight period of the year, as well as the brightest.
Yes, Charleston’s early-winter sunsets can be disorienting, but things on the southern Atlantic coast aren’t nearly as gloomy during rush hour compared to our Northern neighbors. Yesterday, the sun set in Bar Harbor, Maine, at 3:56 p.m. Still, it could be better: Key West’s solstice sunset came at 5:44 p.m.
But don’t worry, planetary movement combined with a little mutually agreed-upon time fiddling — daylight saving time — means we’ll soon have our own summer solstice on June 21, 2022, with sunset at 8:31 p.m. (After that, we’re sorry to say, the days get shorter again.)