Today is the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year.

Day length varies by latitude on this day. In Anchorage, the sun rises at 10:14 a.m. and sets about 5 1/2 hours later at 3:42 p.m. The winter solstice marks the official start of astronomical winter in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, today is the longest day of the year — the summer solstice.


The winter solstice is an exciting day for many in Alaska as it marks the last day of losing daylight. Thursday, we’ll gain 11 seconds in Anchorage and by late January we’re up to an extra five minutes of daylight per day. The daylight really begins to add up as we get closer to the spring equinox in March. By May, Anchorage will experience 24 hours of daylight, or continuous twilight.

The summer solstice will occur on June 20, 2017, when daylight peaks in Anchorage at 19 hours and 21 minutes.

Contrary to popular belief, the solstice does not mark the latest sunrise and the earliest sunset of the year. These times vary depending on latitude, but most happen within a few days or weeks of the winter solstice. The higher up you move in latitude, the closer the latest sunrise and earliest sunset of the year occur in relation to the solstice.

Anchorage saw it’s earliest sunset on Dec. 16, at 3:40 p.m. The latest sunrise doesn’t happen until a few days after the solstice, on Dec. 25 at 10:15 a.m.

Current lengths of daylight around Alaska:

Barrow: 0 hours

Kotzebue: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Fairbanks: 3 hours, 41 minutes

Anchorage: 5 hours, 27 minutes

Juneau: 6 hours, 22 minutes

Kodiak: 6 hours, 30 minutes

Ketchikan: 7 hours, 5 minutes

Adak: 7 hours, 46 minutes

Rachael Penton can be reached via email or on Twitter @RachaelPenton.