How much daylight will St. Louis have on the shortest day of 2023?

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DENVER (KDVR) — The darkest day of the year is nearly upon us.

This year, the “darkest” day of the year — when Americans get as little as six hours of daylight — lands on Dec. 21 (it’s usually around Dec. 21 or 22).

During the darkest or “shortest” day of the year — better known as the winter solstice — the northern hemisphere is tilted as far away from the sun as possible. This causes us in the U.S. to experience the least amount of sun during the day.

As you can guess, we have the opposite during the summer solstice, which occurs in June. That’s when we have the most sunlight during the day and the “shortest” night.

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But first, we have to get through the shortest day of the year.

On Thursday, most parts of the country will have only about eight or nine hours of daylight.

In Denver, for example, residents will have nine hours and 22 minutes of sunlight, which is over five hours less than Denver’s longest day in June.

Here’s a look at how much daylight other major U.S. cities will see on Dec. 21, ranked from least to most. All times are local.

CitySunriseSunsetLength of daylightJuneau, Alaska8:45 a.m.3:07 p.m.6:22Bismarck, North Dakota8:25 a.m.4:57 p.m.8:32Billings, Montana7:52 a.m.4:32 p.m.8:40Portland, Oregon7:48 a.m.4:30 p.m.8:42Burlington, Vermont7:26 a.m.4:16 p.m.8:50Green Bay, Wisconsin7:25 a.m.4:15 p.m.8:50Sioux Falls, South Dakota7:57 a.m.4:53 p.m.8:56Lansing, Michigan8:05 a.m.5:07 p.m.9:02Springfield, Massachusetts7:15 a.m.4:22 p.m.9:07Providence, Rhode Island7:10 a.m.4:18 p.m.9:08Hartford, Connecticut7:14 a.m.4:23 p.m.9:08Chicago, Illinois7:15 a.m.4:23 p.m.9:08Des Moines, Iowa7:38 a.m.4:47 p.m.9:09New York City, New York7:17 a.m.4:32 p.m.9:15Salt Lake City, Utah7:48 a.m.5:03 p.m.9:15Harrisburg, Pennsylvania7:27 a.m.4:45 p.m.9:18Columbus, Ohio7:50 a.m.5:10 p.m.9:20Indianapolis, Indiana8:02 a.m.5:23 p.m.9:21Denver, Colorado7:17 a.m.4:39 p.m.9:22Topeka, Kansas7:38 a.m.5:03 p.m.9:25Kansas City, Missouri7:34 a.m.4:59 p.m.9:25Washington, D.C.7:23 a.m.4:49 p.m.9:26St. Louis, Missouri7:15 a.m.4:43 p.m.9:28Sacramento, California7:20 a.m.4:48 a.m.9:28Charleston, West Virginia7:40 a.m.5:09 p.m.9:29Lexington, Kentucky7:50 a.m.5:22 p.m.9:32Richmond, Virginia7:21 a.m.4:55 p.m.9:34Las Vegas, Nevada6:48 a.m.4:30 p.m.9:42Nashville, Tennessee6:54 a.m.4:36 p.m.9:42Raleigh, North Carolina7:21 a.m.5:05 p.m.9:44Oklahoma City, Oklahoma7:35 a.m.5:21 p.m.9:46Albuquerque, New Mexico7:11 a.m.4:58 p.m.9:47Little Rock, Arkansas7:12 a.m.5:02 p.m.9:50Birmingham, Alabama6:47 a.m.4:43 p.m.9:56Charleston, South Carolina7:18 a.m.5:17 p.m.9:59Jackson, Mississippi6:58 a.m.5:00 p.m.10:02Savannah, Georgia7:21 a.m.5:24 p.m.10:03Baton Rouge, Louisiana6:57 a.m.5:08 p.m.10:11Austin, Texas7:23 a.m.5:35 p.m.10:12Tampa, Florida7:17 a.m.5:39 p.m.10:22Honolulu, Hawaii7:04 a.m.5:55 p.m.10:51These times were collected from NOAA’s Solar Calculator, which uses “apparent” sunrises and sunsets. This occurs shortly before the sun crosses above and below the horizon, slightly before the actual sunrise or sunset.

You can see your sunrise and 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. 

Luckily, early and mid-December mark a turning point. Since daylight saving began in November, the sun has been setting earlier and earlier throughout the country.

Over the last couple of weeks, much of the U.S. saw their earliest sunsets. Denver, for example, saw its earliest setting time on Dec. 4, when darkness began setting in at 4:35 p.m. But, since Dec. 12, the sun has been setting later and later.

The sun has, however, been rising slightly later every day.

This trend will continue until early January when sunrises will begin shifting earlier. The sun will rise at 6:20 a.m. in Denver on March 9 only to be pushed back to 7:18 a.m. when daylight saving time begins the next day.

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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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