Sun Setting Farther North - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Sun Setting Farther North

Question:

The sun seems to be setting farther to the north than normal for this time of the year.  I was hoping you had an explanation, and I also wondered if this could effect the weather?

Answer:

The sun is setting on the horizon exactly where it is supposed to set from everything I know.  Starting after March 21 (approx. date of Spring Equinox) and continuing through the summer month and up until before September 21 (approximate date of Fall Equinox), the sun rises "north-of-due-east" and sets "north-of-due-west" each and every day. 
If you are looking due south at sunrise or sunset at this time of year, the sun actually breaks the horizon "behind" you.  Which also means that many "north-facing" walls with no obstructions to their views of the eastern and western horizons DO get a little direct sunshine (a few minutes, maybe -- early in the AM and late in the PM) for half the year! 
Equinox means "equal nights," indicating equal length of day and night.  On the two equinox dates, the sun rises due east and sets due west, taking the sun 12 hours to cross the sky from horizon to horizon.   These are the only two days in the year when that is true (technically), and this is why these two dates have roughly "12 hours of daylight"  and "12 hours between sun rise and set."  
From the Spring to Fall Equinox (spring-to-summer-to-fall), the hours of sunshine are longer than 12 hours, because the sun rises "north-of-east" and sets "north-of-west." From the Fall Equinox to the Spring Equinox (fall-to-winter-to-spring), the sun rises "south-of-due-east" and sets "south-of-due-west". 
Think of it as having less distance to travel across the sky in the winter, which makes the hours of daylight less than 12 hours.  Hope this helps!

Jay Grymes
Chief Meteorologist
WAFB Storm Team

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