Most Montanans would probably argue that winter begins well before its official start date, but all you scientific sticklers out there can finally call our state’s coldest season by name thanks to the occurrence of the winter solstice at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22.


After months of waning hours of daylight, the year’s longest night and shortest day have passed. For most of us residing in the northernmost latitudes of the country, this comes as welcome news, as our days will now begin to slowly grow longer. The key word, of course, is “slowly.”


If you’re like me, you use every ounce of your willpower to not hit the snooze button when your alarm clock goes off in what seems like the dead of night. Unfortunately, it’s going to be awhile before the sun joins us for our morning coffee.


One month from now, sunrise will occur a whole six minutes earlier than it does at present. We’ll get a little bit better deal on the other end, with the sun going down about a half-hour later than it currently does. In two months, we’ll have gained about 40 extra minutes of daylight in the morning, with the sun rising at around 7:30 a.m. By then, sunset will have passed the 6 p.m. mark, occurring at about 6:10 p.m.


But it will be nearly six months before the sun rises anytime close to when I get up, meaning I will be forced to wake up to my alarm — one of the worst, most irritating noises in the history of sound — for at least 100 more mornings.


Still, it could always be worse: Right now in Juneau, Alaska, the sun rises at about 8:45 a.m. and sets just after 3 p.m. So much for the midnight sun at this time of year.


Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.


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