Wednesday's passing of the winter solstice means the days are getting "longer" from now until June -- starting with a two-second gain in sunshine Thursday.
On the solstice, the sun rose at 7:23 a.m. and set at 4:47 p.m., and it does on Thursday, too. But there is a slight difference in daylight as winter starts ever-so-slowly moving toward spring.
The sun will spend two seconds longer above the horizon on Thursday than it did on Wednesday. On Friday, Baltimore will gain another six seconds of sunlight, and 10 more seconds on Saturday.
By Jan. 7, Baltimore will gain more than a minute of sunlight each day.
The gains increase until we reach the vernal equinox March 20, with more than 2 1/2 minutes of extra sunlight each day around the middle of that month. By then, there are about 12 hours of daylight, about 2 1/2 hours more than there are now.
The gains decelerate as we approach the summer solstice, which brings almost 15 hours of daylight. Starting on June 21, the nights start getting longer again until the next winter solstice arrives.
The changes vary by latitude.
Fairbanks, Alaska, got about 3 hours, 41 minutes of daylight on the solstice, but gains more than a minute of sunlight each day starting Saturday, and almost 7 minutes a day by February.
In Key West, Florida, the changes are smaller and more gradual. There was about 10 hours, 36 minutes of sunlight there on the solstice, and the sun is up for only about a minute and a half longer each day by the equinox.