The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Finally looking brighter

January is long, cold, and dark in Chicago. We've got no more holidays, we've got much more snow, and we hardly see the sun.

So January 28th always makes me a little happy, because it's (usually) the first day in almost four months that the sun sets after 5pm. (The last time was November 1st.) It marks the log-jam of dark and cold nights breaking up. Sunset will slide to 5:30 in only three weeks and, thanks to Daylight Saving Time, blast almost to 7pm two weeks after that.

Of course, it's still another week and a half until the sun rises before 7am...

How to celebrate New Year's Eve 24 times in one night

Simple: Go down to Amundsen-Scott Station and walk around the pole.

But if you don't want to cheat, get a very fast airplane:

Jeremy Newton is an Air Force veteran who flew F-18s, but, when contacted by e-mail, suggested the F-22 for a variety of reasons. First, it can fly at 1.5 Mach (about 1,000 mph) without using its afterburner, meaning it burns much less fuel. It tops out at 2 Mach, though that burns more fuel. Second, it can refuel in 10 minutes -- in mid-air while traveling at 400 mph. And third, as the video shows, it can go from full speed to full stop in under four minutes, and to top speed at 30,000 feet in under 5 minutes.

If you don't have access to military hardware, you can still probably hit the four time zones in the United States in that Gulfstream, although you'd be touching down in less exciting locales. (Unless you love the Upper Plains, in which case: go for it.)

The maximum number of time zones you can hit by plane depends on the plane, of course, and on how much you're willing to push it. It seems as though the Gulfstream could get you from GMT+11 to Greenwich Mean Time -- on one tank of gas. The Raptor can do a little better, from GMT+12 to GMT-1, as on the map below.

This is, of course, silly. But it's close to a plan I have on my bucket list: on the June solstice, see the sun rise over Passamaquoddy Bay near Lubec, Maine, and see it set over the Pacific Ocean near the Makah Indian Reservation in Washington. I'd bet you can even do that taking commercial flights.

Chicago sunrises, 2015

Here's the semi-annual Chicago sunrise chart. (You can get one for your own location at http://www.wx-now.com/Sunrise/SunriseChart.aspx.)

Date Significance Sunrise Sunset Daylight
2015
4 Jan Latest sunrise until Oct 29th 07:19 16:33 9:14
28 Jan 5pm sunset 07:08 17:00 9:53
5 Feb 7am sunrise 07:00 17:11 10:11
20 Feb 5:30pm sunset 06:40 17:30 10:50
27 Feb 6:30am sunrise 06:29 17:39 11:09
7 Mar Earliest sunrise until Apr 12th
Earliest sunset until Oct 30th
06:17 17:48 11:31
8 Mar Daylight savings time begins
Latest sunrise until Oct 25th
Earliest sunset until Sep 22nd
07:15 18:49 11:34
17 Mar 7am sunrise, 7pm sunset
12-hour day
06:59 19:00 12:00
20 Mar Equinox 17:45 CDT 06:54 19:03 12:08
4 Apr 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:29 19:20 12:50
13 Apr 7:30pm sunset 06:14 19:30 13:15
22 Apr 6am sunrise 06:00 19:40 13:39
11 May 8pm sunset 05:35 20:00 14:25
16 May 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:05 14:35
14 Jun Earliest sunrise of the year 05:15 20:28 15:12
20 Jun Solstice 11:38 CDT
8:30pm sunset
05:16 20:30 15:14
27 Jun Latest sunset of the year 05:18 20:31 15:12
2 Jul 8:30pm sunset 05:20 20:30 15:09
16 Jul 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:24 14:54
9 Aug 8pm sunset 05:53 20:00 14:07
16 Aug 6am sunrise 06:00 19:50 13:50
29 Aug 7:30pm sunset 06:13 19:30 13:16
14 Sep 6:30am sunrise 06:30 19:03 12:32
16 Sep 7pm sunset 06:32 18:59 12:27
23 Sep Equinox , 03:21 CDT 06:39 18:47 12:10
26 Sep 12-hour day 06:42 18:42 11:59
3 Oct 6:30pm sunset 06:50 18:30 11:39
12 Oct 7am sunrise 07:00 18:15 11:15
22 Oct 6pm sunset 07:11 17:59 10:48
31 Oct Latest sunrise until 1 Nov 2016
Latest sunset until Mar 6th
07:22 17:47 10:24
1 Nov Standard time returns
Earliest sunrise until Mar 2nd
06:23 16:46 10:22
7 Nov 6:30 sunrise 06:31 16:38 10:07
15 Nov 4:30pm sunset 06:40 16:30 9:49
2 Dec 7am sunrise 07:00 16:21 9:20
8 Dec Earliest sunset of the year 07:06 16:20 9:14
21 Dec Solstice , 22:48 CST 07:15 16:23 9:07

You can get sunrise information for your location at wx-now.com.

Noted for later

Very busy today; less so the rest of the week. So after I'm done with this deliverable today I'll read these:

Back to the mines...

What the latest sunrise of the year feels like in Paris

It's 7:35, and pitch black outside. When people talk about permanent daylight saving time, because they don't want to switch clocks twice a year, they should consider that France is an hour ahead of the "correct" time zone for its longitude and therefore has sunrises at 8:30 in the morning this time of year.

If there were daylight right now, I'd upload a photo of all the airplanes taxiing past my hotel window. It's kind of cool. Tomorrow, when I can sleep in.

Partial solar eclipse this evening

The total lunar eclipse two weeks ago required getting up early in the morning and trying to find the moon through trees and Chicago street lights. Late this afternoon, Chicago (and most of North America to the west) will get a much better show from the moon as it partially obscures the sun.

Starting around 16:35 CDT this afternoon, the moon will creep in front of the sun, reaching maximum eclipse right at sunset (17:59 CDT).

Of course, this being Chicago, and despite the crystal-clear blue skies above the city right now, the forecast for this afternoon calls for increasing clouds and showers. Because we won't actually see the eclipse, that just means it will get dark and gloomy an hour before sunset.

And look at that sunset time. That's right, last night was the first sunset since March 8th to occur before 6pm.

Ah, well. If you live west of Chicago, you'll get a good show from the moon this afternoon, with less gloom and more astronomical coolness. Enjoy.

Light and dark

Vox's Sarah Cliff reports some data from health gadget maker Jawbone about when we go to sleep, and for how long:

Jawbone's data shows that, on average, no major American city gets the National Institute of Health recommended seven hours of nightly sleep. You see that in the light green areas [on the interactive map], which tend to surround large populations.

Jawbone also put together a map of when people go to sleep. And there you see mostly people who live in large cities and college towns staying up later. That shows that people in Brooklyn, NY tend to have the latest bed time in the United States (they turn down, on average, at 12:07 a.m.) where as people living in Maui, Hawaii get to bed the earliest at 10:31 p.m.

In a similar vein, people in Massachusetts are grumbling about their time zone again, thinking that year-round daylight saving time (or year-round observance of Atlantic Standard Time) will somehow make life better:

As sunset creeps earlier—it’s down to 6:19 p.m. today in Boston—we’re already dreading what happens a month from now: Clocks turn back. The first Sunday morning, it’s fantastic. An extra hour of sleep! Later that day, though, the honeymoon ends. Why is it pitch black before dinner?

The same weekend we experience these conflicting emotions, Americans in Arizona and Hawaii will do something foreign to most of us: They won’t change their clocks.

More evening daylight could be part of a broader solution to retain the bright young people who come to New England from afar to our world-class colleges and universities. Retaining college graduates is so important to our region that the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is studying the issue. But consider the actual experience of students who come to Boston for their education: On the shortest evening of the year, the sun sets here at 4:11. When they graduate, they might find themselves with options in New York, where the shortest day extends to 4:28, or Palo Alto, where it’s 4:50! Shifting one time zone would give us a 5:11 sunset—a small but meaningful competitive change.

Well, sure, but the sun would rise as late as 8:15 am in December, which would cause parents to complain. (For an excellent takedown of the Globe's argument, check out Michael Downing's Spring Forward.)

Lunar eclipse tonight will be creepy

The earth will blot out the sun tonight, if you're standing on the moon, but the earth's atmosphere will bend red light just enough to put on a great show:

Much of North America will have front-row seats for this special sky show, which will particularly favor the western part of the continent. Sky-watchers there will be able to see the entire eclipse unfold high in the western skies; East Coast observers will see much of the first half of the eclipse. For early risers in the East, the full moon will be sinking below the western horizon around sunrise, just as the total eclipse is getting under way.

The eclipse begins with the partial phase, when the moon enters Earth's dark shadow (also called the umbra shadow). That begins at 2:15 a.m. PDT (5:15 a.m. EDT). Then the umbral shadow will spread across the moon's disk, moving from left to right.

At 3:25 a.m. PDT (6:25 a.m. EDT) totality begins, when the moon is fully engulfed in the umbral shadow and turns a shade of orange red. The deepest or midpoint of the eclipse will be at 3:55 a.m. PDT, and totality continues until 4:24 a.m. PDT. The last phase of the partial eclipse ends at 5:34 a.m. PDT.

I'll at least get up to check the weather on my mobile around 5:30am tomorrow, and if it's clear, Parker might get a really-freaking-early walk. In Chicago, the moon will be close to the western horizon, but it should still be visible.

Then, on the 23rd, a partial solar eclipse will be visible throughout most of the United States and Canada from 16:43 Chicago time until sunset. Peak eclipse occurs at 17:43 Chicago time as the sun is close to the western horizon.

And for those of you who thought of it immediately, turn around, bright eyes.