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June 13th: The Earliest Sunrise of the Year

June 13th: The Earliest Sunrise of the Year

If you open your copy of the 2020 Farmers’ Almanac to page 162, you’ll see that in the Northern Hemisphere, the earliest sunrise for the year is June 13th, at 5:30 a.m. (at 40° North Latitude*).  Actually, the sunrise times are listed at 5:30 a.m. every day from June 11th through the 16th, but it will actually rise a few seconds earlier on the 13th than it does on the 12th or the 14th.

Earliest Sunrise—Before the Solstice?

While everyone knows that the days are longer in the summer, many people are surprised to learn that the earliest sunrise of the year doesn’t occur on the longest day of the year—the Summer Solstice, which falls on June 21st—but comes nearly a week before it. But why?

The discrepancy is caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun. The Earth moves faster in its orbit during January (when we’re closest to the Sun) than in July, when we’re farthest away. Because of this motion, the Sun’s path through the sky, when charted on a day-by-day basis, appears to take a lopsided figure-8 pattern astronomers call an “analemma.”

Because of this, the conventional wisdom that the Sun lies directly overhead at noon, splitting the day into two equal parts, is actually not true. The midday sun comes later by the clock on the June solstice than it does one week before. Therefore, the sunrise and sunset times also come later by the clock.

The Sun’s looping path also explains why the earliest sunrise of the year (and the latest sunset), do not exactly coincide with the Summer Solstice. As stated, the earliest sunrise occurs about a week before the Solstice, while the latest sunset occurs about a week after it, even though the exact date depends on your latitude. At northern latitudes (at Seattle) the latest sunset happens a few days before June 27. Southern latitudes (at Mexico City), the latest sunset won’t happen until early July.

At 40° North Latitude*:

  • June 13 – sunrise at 5:30 a.m.; sunset at 8:30 p.m. Length of Day: 15h
  • June 21 – sunrise at 5:31 a.m.; sunset at 8:33 p.m. Length of Day: 15h, 1m

A similar effect happens during the Winter Solstice when the earliest sunset arrives about two weeks before the solstice, and the latest sunrise occurs about two weeks afterward.

So, on June 14th, when you’re heading outside to hang your flag for Flag Day, be sure to greet the earliest sunrise of the year!

*To calculate your local time from our calendar pages, refer to the 2020 Almanac, page 136 under “Adjustments.”

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  • Grant says:

    It’s not just the elliptical orbit. The axial tilt is at least as important.

  • Pam says:

    Never mind….will check adjustments for Chicago….longitude and latitude.

  • Pam says:

    According to timeanddate.com for Chicago, sunrise is 5:14 a.m. June 12 thru June 17. Don’t understand such a big discrepancy between 5:14 and 5:30 a.m. for sunrise.

  • David says:

    Latitude and longitude affect sunrise time. In the northern hemisphere, the farther north the earlier the sunrise between the spring and fall equinoxes. The sunset is also later farther north during that period. The farther west the later the sunrise. At a given latitude, the sun rises about 4 minutes later for every degree west. It is confusing because sometimes sunrise/sunset is calculated without regard to Daylight Savings, which makes more sense in constructing a chart for the whole year, and sometimes adjusted for Daylight Savings, which is more practical. So a 6:30 sunrise for New York City (Daylight Savings) could translate to 5:04 (no Daylight Savings) for Cape Cod. I’m no expert. Look up ‘local time’ as it was calculated before time zones were invented for more information.

  • Pat Hiatt says:

    I have been asking this for years but have not received an answer. Why is it hottest later (about 4:00 pm) than it used to be (about 1:00 pm) several years ago. What happened? I assumed it was the earthquake in Sumatra (& ensuing sunami that killed roughly 1/4 million people), but really don’t know for sure.

  • De Asis says:

    No comment

  • De Asis says:

    The sAFEST ACTION THEN WOULD BE ‘no comment’

  • Wayne says:

    I googled this and got a 5:06 AM sunrise. I’m on the eastcoast in New England which may be the reason for the difference in time with the artical.

  • Marie says:

    It seems to be light here on the Pacific Northwest coast around 430am! And sunset at 945pm

  • Denise says:

    I’ll be checking this out from Down Under … Interesting.

  • Gail says:

    I kept track last year. On the day of the solstice sunrise was 5:04. Sunset — 8:17. I will be interested to see if it will be the same this year. I am on Cape Cod in the Eastern time zone.
    @Jules — I don’t understand where 6:30 is coming from unless you’re in the Atlantic time zone. If it weren’t for Daylight Savings Time it would be 4:30.

  • Jules says:

    Why do you say 5:30 when every other source in America states it to be 6:30? Do you not recognize daylight savings time?

  • Eileen says:

    My almanac lists the sunrise on the 11th thru the 19th at 5:09….

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