We are still about two weeks away from the shortest day of the year, but after Friday night, the early winter sunsets will start shifting later again.
The difference between sunset times from Dec. 2 through Dec. 11 is a matter of seconds, all at about 4:43 p.m. in Baltimore. About in the middle of that span is Friday's sunset, after which the darkness starts arriving slightly later each night.
The days, however, continue growing shorter until the winter solstice on Dec. 21. Sunrise will continue shifting later in the morning until about Jan. 6, when it peaks at about 7:26 a.m.
So, why isn't the earliest sunset and latest sunrise on the winter solstice? According to EarthSky.org, it's "because of the discrepancy between the clock and the sun. A clock ticks off exactly 24 hours from one noon to the next. But an actual day -- as measured by the spin of the Earth, from what is called one 'solar noon' to the next -- rarely equals 24 hours exactly."