Daylight Saving(s) Time vs. Standard Time
Kirt's Cogitations™ #298

Daylight Saving Time Participating Countries (wikipedia) - RF CafeTo be or not to be - that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous bi-annual clock shifts, or to take up arms against a sea of contradicting justifications for and against the existence of DST, and by opposing, end it. (apologies to Will Shakespeare and Prince Hamlet)

Twice each year, a majority of the western world is subject to a manmade disruption in circadian and habitual cycles with an inane one-hour clock change on and off of "Daylight Saving(s) Time" (DST). Some historians claim that Benjamin Franklin joked about DST in the 18th century, but it was New Zealander George Hudson who proposed the modern day clock shift scheme in 1895. Germany, on April 30, 1916, was the first country to officially adopt DST. Since then, many other countries have gone onto and off of Daylight Saving Time. The motivation varies from saving coal during wartime to giving farmers more daylight for tending to crops to keeping school kids from being run over by cars on dark mornings. As you might expect, "expert" evidence is presented in abundance both for and against each issue.

Every spring and fall (actually now winter and fall) the debate begins anew regarding whether DST is still needed. Some people want to retain the twice-yearly clock shift, some want year-round Daylight Saving Time, and most of the rest (including me) want year-round Standard Time (ST). Our modern world can no longer reasonably be argued to need the time shifting. A look at the above map show who does and does not currently do DST. Within those blue and orange areas are pockets of the population that has exempted themselves. For instance, in the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii do not currently participate.

Solar Analemma (Anthony Ayiomamitis) - RF CafeIf the clock change were to be eliminated, then some political body must decide whether to impose year-round DST or ST. Opinions expressed in read comment areas on websites seem to be about evenly split, with a few people opting for a compromise that adds 30 minutes to Standard Time. My preference for Standard Time is based on nature itself. Discounting for the minor altitude variations due to the earth's 32½° axis tilt and its elliptical orbit, noon (midday) is defined as when the sun reaches its point of greatest elevation in the sky, which is roughly what we designate as 12:00 pm (noon) Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight Saving Time changes that to 1:00 pm, so there is no naturally occurring event to reference to a DST "noon." Admittedly, in these days of manmade, artificial everything, there is no compelling reason for demanding that noon coincide with the sun being at its highest point in the sky. Most people are so ignorant of the natural world around them that the astronomical method for time keeping it would never occur to them.

The aforementioned phenomenon of the daily variation in the sun's time of maximum height in the sky gives rise to a curve called an analemma. The photo to the right shows where the sun is at the exact same time (noon in this case) throughout the year. Its figure-8 pattern results from what is known as the "equation of time" (EoT), which is the difference between solar noon and your watch's noon. Note that the crossing portion of the curve is not in the center; that is due to Earth's elliptical orbit. If the sun was in the exact center of a circular orbit, the analemma curve would be symmetrical.

Solar analemma for Erie, Pennsylvania - RF CafeEach point on earth generates a unique analemma plot. The chart to the left is one I created for my location in Erie, Pennsylvania*. Data points were generated on the www.solar-noon.com website. I put them in Excel and generated the analemma curve. You can see that at my longitude located west of the center of the Eastern Time Zone how the sun is always late to assume its position of highest altitude.

Length of Day Counted Cross Stitch - RF CafeMy fascination (some would say obsession) with time, length of day (daylight), seasonal changes, etc., has existed for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid in Mayo, Maryland, I was keenly aware of the changes. Shortly after we got married, Melanie created a counted cross stitch project (to the right) depicting length of day versus day of year which I designed using data from The Old Farmers Almanac tables. You might also be interested in an article I wrote a couple years ago titled, "A Graphical Look at Daylight Saving(s) Time."

In conclusion I say let us rid ourselves of the bi-annual clock shift and re-adopt Standard Time as our timekeeping norm.

* RF Cafe coordinates: 42.076262N : 80.196111W

 

 

Posted March 12, 2018

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