* If the first thing you do when you wake up is look toward your window, you probably have noticed that lately it’s still dark outside. Due to the way our Earth orbits around our Sun, the light from that Sun hits the earth in different ways throughout the year. Rather than going into detail about how and why that happens (another blog post another time), we want to talk to you about a funny thing you may observe this year on November 4th (and every year around this time).
Your parents (and may you too) will move around the house, setting all of the clocks back one hour. Our computers and other gadgets that receive updates from the internet will receive their queue to update their time too! And then a really strange thing will happen: You’ll likely sleep in an hour later the next day, but wake up at the same time! AND it will be lighter out than the morning before! The weirdest part – when your parents come home from work, all of the sudden they arrive AT NIGHT!
How does this happen all at once? Sure, the clocks moved back, but this is a BIG CHANGE, right? Actually, no. The days have been getting shorter for weeks now, as you may have noticed in the morning. But it’s not as obvious when you get out of school, since the sun is still setting.
We found an amazing graph on timeanddate.com, which illustrates times of sunlight and darkness for Baltimore and the surrounding area throughout the year. There are breaks in the line appearing on days when Daylight Saving Time starts and ends. The graph illustrates how the small adjustment to our clocks on those days changes our perception of what is actually going on. The big change we see the next day has been occurring gradually since the last day of summer. Even more amazing – the amounts of light we receive changes daily over the span of ~365 days a year. There are exceptions to this rule - can you guess where this DOESN'T happen?*
So here’s where we ask our Scientists to use their observation skills to do a small experiment:
Have more questions about Daylight Saving Time, and the history behind it? Great! It's always good to be curious, especially of things we take for granted. We recommend this article from History.com to help you start your research.
*did you guess places located on the Earth's equator? If so, well done! Check out this Sun Graph for Quito, a city in Ecuador - it looks a LOT different from the one for Baltimore! Also notice they don't have the bumps for Daylight Savings - because there's no Daylight Savings in Ecuador!