Sunrise, sunset

Our columnist Char Toews talks about the position of the sun

The Cousins From Toronto came to visit us this summer. As we sat out in the backyard one evening, with the sun high enough to read a book at 9, 10, 11 o’clock, a cousin asked us if we had trouble getting the kid to sleep on bright summer nights when he was little.

“No,” was the short answer—but it made me think.

Some young people I knew a few years ago here in Terrace were travelling around the planet from their home in New Zealand. “How ya doin’?” I called out to them one drizzly summer day. “We can’t sleep!” one young woman said, “The sun! The sun!”

“We haven’t seen the sun for ages, it’s been raining and overcast for a week!” I replied. “But. It. Never. Goes. Down.” she said.

Oh, like that. Not a sunburn problem: a sunset problem.

A “sundowner” party is popular in warmer climates, where people gather from 5 – 8 p.m. to have a cocktail, groove to music, and watch the sun go down.

At 8 p.m.? Well, let’s see: I don’t know exactly where in Zed-Land they came from, but in Auckland, it goes down at shortly after 5 p.m. on June 21, and, on their longest day, in their Christmastime summer, it goes down at 8:40. On that long day, they have just 14 hours and 41 minutes of daylight. Poor babies, they need their nine or ten hours of darkness to sleep.

Our longest day is 17 hours of daylight—actually, it will be 17 hours and 17 minutes this coming June 22.

If you have travelled to warm places, you may have experienced how odd it feels to be outside in darkness and it’s still hot out. Like the sun doesn’t matter at all! Here, our weather at least has the decency to cool off when the sun finally disappears for the night.

The Sunset Trip in Havana, Cuba starts at 6 p.m. whether you book your three-hour boat cruise for January or for June. The sun will reliably start setting some time after 6 p.m. and for sure finish before 9 p.m.

My hubby lived in Singapore for a while as a young man, where he says the weather was the same every day. In the rainy season, it rained daily—at 4 pm.

At one degree above the equator, their shortest day is 12 hours and 3 minutes, their longest is 12 hours and 11 minutes. Crazy, eh? The sun might rise as early as 6:58 a.m. and as late as 7:10 a.m.

I would use that as an excuse to be tardy for work in the morning, you bet! “Sorry, but my alarm—um, thingie, didn’t go off til late!”

I must admit the glitter and glamour of the Academy Awards lost some of its allure when I realized the stars walking down the red carpet in their evening wear among all those lights were parading around in the late afternoon.

Well, they might have been up 10 or 12 hours already, getting their hair done at a sunrise call.

“No,” was the short answer to the Cousin from Toronto, here’s a longer one. The position of the sun does not affect our sleep here in northern B.C. If it did, we would sleep like cats all winter long—our shortest day is just 7 hours and 17 minutes, meaning if we slumbered from sundown to sunup, we would sleep for 16 hours and 43 minutes, and only 6 hours 43 minutes on the shortest day. Unlike Singapore, whose daylight hours range from 12:11 to 12:03, an 8 minute difference, we span the gap from 17:17 to 7:17, a ten hour difference.

For your enjoyment, here’s the sunrise and sunset times, and the resulting hours of daylight today, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013:

Auckland:     6:12 AM    8:44 PM    14:31

Singapore:    7:10 AM    7:13 PM    12:03

Havana:    7:13 AM    6:01 PM    10:48

Hollywood:    6:59 AM    5:02 PM    10:02

Toronto:     7:50 AM    5:00 PM    9:09

Terrace:    8:52 AM    4:32 PM    7:40

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