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Sunset times start getting later

Every second counts: Sunset times start getting later even as the days keep getting shorter.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Night owls rejoice. Starting Wednesday, and continuing through July, the sunset times will grow later in the evening each day.

The Wednesday sunset moves back one minute to 5:11 p.m. Tuesday marked the earliest sunset of the year at 5:10 p.m. 

Despite the change in sunset times, the days are still getting shorter as sunrise times continue to shift later each passing morning. The latest sunset will come on Jan. 4 at 7:32 a.m. Starting Jan. 12, sunrise times will begin occurring earlier. 

This year the Winter Solstice is on Tuesday, Dec. 21. This day marks the time in the Earth's astronomical rotation where we experience equal parts day and night. Starting the next day, the amount of sunshine each day will slowly grow longer until the Summer Solstice on June 21, 2022.

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Around the solstice, the changes can feel small: with mere seconds being adjusted. However, the impact grows over time. Whereas the sunset time moves only two minutes between the week of Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, it moves seven minutes between the week of Jan. 11 and Jan 18.

The biggest impact felt comes not from science but by humans when Daylight Saving Time resumes on Sunday, March 13 at 2 a.m. When this happens, the sunset time changes from 6:28 p.m. to 7:29 p.m. While astronomy provides only an extra 2 minutes and 13 seconds of sunlight this day, human-made changes to timekeeping push the clocks an hour forward.

Many states have proposed ending the annual time change between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time, which was first introduced during World War I to save coal and support the wartime effort. 

RELATED: Why is daylight saving time still a thing?

However, as WCNC Charlotte Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich has previously explained, it's not Daylight Saving Time that many opponents actually want to eliminate. Whether they know it or not, it's actually Standard Time they oppose.

Regardless, the elimination of the bi-annual time change would help reduce disruption to sleep cycles.

The North Carolina House passed a bill in April 2021 adopting daylight saving time year-round. The bill was sent to the Senate, but has not progressed. The N.C. Senate failed to pass a similar measure in 2019. South Carolina passed a bill in 2020 to make daylight saving time permanent, but it won't take effect until there is approval by Congress.