After reading a couple of recent letters to the editor from fellow Hoosiers, I remembered that I wanted to do an update corresponding to my "earliest sunset of the year" post on December 7.
In the South Bend Tribune on January 12 (When will Indiana students see the light?), Angela Warren-Manns wrote:
"I am concerned for my son who has to be out in the dark to go to school in the morning. This is bizarre for us because where we are from in New Jersey, it is light outside around 7 a.m. We have also lived in Texas, California and Maryland and they are also the same as New Jersey: light around 7 a.m. It just doesn't make sense to me that Indiana is on Eastern time. The sun certainly does not agree with it."
Ms. Warren-Manns is quite correct. The average sunrise time for places due east and west of South Bend on January 12 is 7:25 am. Civil twilight (when there is sufficient natural light for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished) is about 7 am this time of year for places in the geographically correct time zone.
In the Montgomery County (Crawfordsville) newspaper (Who makes decision on delays, closing?), Buddy Posthauer writes:
"My daughter has not had very much experience driving under these conditions... She could have taken the bus which picks her up about one hour earlier than when she drives, which it is pitch dark, and although this is not the schools fault, thanks to the time change, no child should be standing along side a busy and dangerous highway in the dark, even if the weather is good. It was just a few years ago I could not leave for work on time because a gentleman lost his life after a head on collision right where the kids have to stand in the dark to wait on the bus, which is much more dangerous in bad weather."
What both of these letters have in common is that they highlight the increased risk to Indiana children on their way to school this time of year because of observing eastern time.
Except for a few counties in the northwest and southwest corners, all of Indiana has been in the geographically incorrect eastern time zone since the 1960s.
January 4 marks the latest sunrise of the year.
The natural clock time (aka Local Mean Time) for sunrise in Indianapolis on January 4 is 7:22 am. This would be the sunrise time on January 4 if Indianapolis had ended up at the middle of a time zone like Philadelphia or Peoria did.
The table below compares the sunrise time on January 4 in Indianapolis with other United States cities located in their geographically-correct time zone.
On eastern time, Indy sticks out from the pack like a sore thumb. It will be back in the normal range again whenever Indiana goes back to central time.
Sunrise times on Monday, 4 January 2010
8:06, Indianapolis (eastern time)
7:23, Philadelphia (middle of eastern time zone)
7:23, Peoria (middle of central time zone)
7:21, Denver (middle of mountain time zone)
7:20, Reno (middle of Pacific time zone)
7:20, New York City
7:06, Indianapolis (if returned back to central time)
6:59, Nashville TN (nearly due south of Indy)
6:52, Las Vegas