Tuesday, February 13, 2007

13 February 2006: Daylight Savings

Today is a relatively unimportant day in the general scheme of things. Admittedly, it's my younger sister's birthday (she still seems a little small for her age), and this week also features Valentine's Day, Gareth's birthday and Gareth and Helen's wedding anniversary. Add to that the FA Cup fifth round this weekend, heady heights that Plymouth Argyle have this year reached for only the fourth time in their history (only success in this round coming in 1984 when they beat West Brom on their way to the semi-finals). OK, so there is a little bit going on.

But my point is this: today is the day we should be moving to British Summer Time (BST), or Daylight Savings Time to give it a more globally-valid term. Why today? Because today the amount of daylight (here in Southampton anyway) will be 9h 55m 03s (sunrise to sunset), with the sun at an angle of 25.7 degrees. Last October, when the clocks went back and we had a nice extra hour in bed, the equivalent point was reached: the Saturday saw 9h 57m 26s of daylight (sun angle 26 degrees) and the Sunday, after the clocks went back, saw us have 9h 53m 52s of sunlight (sun angle 25.6 degrees). So today, 13 February, is the equivalent point on this side of the winter solstice. Seven and a half weeks either side of 21 December. The clocks must go forwards now, right?

Of course, there are other differences, mainly to do with the time the sun rises: one major objection to having BST all year round is that the sun would rise so late that people would be going to work and school in the dark. For whatever reason (and it's not one I fully understand), the sun actually rises later now that it did that last weekend of October - by about half an hour. The first day we were on GMT, the sun rose at 6.52am. This morning it rose at 7.23am. So, if you stick the clocks an hour forward tonight, the sun wouldn't come up until twenty past eight, which might cause problems.

But even with this caveat, the sun will be rising at 6.53am on 28 February this year. At this point there will be 10h 51m 03s of daylight, the sun reaching the mighty angle of 31.1 degrees. Surely that must be time to put the clocks forward - we could have sunlight until almost 7pm then.

Nope. Have to wait another month. By the time the clocks do eventually go forward, which this year falls on the relatively early weekend of March 24/25, there will be some 12h 27m 53s of daylight with the sun at 40.9 degrees - practically overhead! (OK, not really). This is thirteen and a half weeks after the solstice and the sun will set at 7.26pm that day.

Now, those of you who have not fallen into a coma after reading this need to realise why this is important. There's something deeply depressing about the sun going down early and there's frankly no justification for the clocks going forward so late. Not to mention the increased electricity usage by people having to put on lights at home earlier than necessary. I believe there's some change to the Daylight Savings regime in the US coming up this year - clocks going forward on the second Sunday in March on a trial basis to see if it really does save energy - but overall I'm still disappointed with it. Today especially, since there's really no reason not to go for it right now.

Of course, come the beginning of March, I'll just do it myself. Clocks in house and car go forward and I'll slap on some sunscreen to trick the olfactory nerves into believing it's summer. Means work doesn't start until later, too. Maybe get the barbecue out...

What do you mean, weird?


Gareth said...

Your remembered it's my birthday this week - wow!

DuncMcRae said...

You sound surprised? :-)