Despite that it has been one of the warmest winters on record, one unavoidable issue during the winter time is the lack of daylight.

Thankfully, there is good news on the way. The days are getting longer and Saturday will reach an important milestone which means one step closer to warmer weather.

Saturday night will be the first 6 p.m. sunset of 2023. In fact, the sun will not set before 6 p.m. again until November 5th.

The sun will set at 6 p.m. tonight in Youngstown, Ohio.

The amount of daylight will increase by nearly two hours in the next month, and the clocks will spring forward on March 12 which will push the sunset to 7:25 p.m.

Here are some other important daylight milestones coming up:

First 12 hour sunlight day: March 17

First 8 p.m. sunset: April 13

15 hours of daylight: May 5

Longest day of the year: June 21st (15 hours and eight minutes of daylight)

How does the amount of daylight today compare to fall?

One interesting comparison to make during the spring month is to compare the amount of daylight and angle of the sun to a day in the fall.

Since the winter solstice on December 21, the amount of daylight and the angle of the sun have been increasing as the northern hemisphere tilts back toward the sun.

Saturday, the sun will reach an angle of 34.7 degrees in the sky. The sun angle today is similar to what you would expect on October 23.

By the end of February, the sun angle will increase to around 41 degrees which will be similar to mid October. The sun will reach its highest point in the sky on June 21, when the sun angle will be 72.3 degrees.

Why does the length of day change?

Prior to the 16th century, most astronomers believed that the Earth was at the center of the solar system and that the sun revolved around the Earth.

This is known as a geocentric model and this theory was accepted because the sun moves across the sky during the day.

In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus developed a heliocentric model in which the Earth revolves around the sun. You might be shocked to learn this radical idea was not accepted at first.

However, in 1610 Galileo observed that Jupiter’s moons revolved around Jupiter which set the basis for how the solar system is viewed today.

Now, we know the planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun and we also know that Earth’s tilt is the cause for the seasons.

During winter, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, which results in decreased solar radiation and colder temperatures. Conversely, the southern hemisphere experiences summer from December through February.

Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

When spring approaches, the tilt of the Earth becomes neutral and the northern and southern hemisphere receive equal amounts of radiation during the spring solstice.

Then, the northern hemisphere tilts toward the sun from late June through late September which signifies summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.

Warmer weather is on the way and the countdown to summer has officially begun!