To 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
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.
If 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
Each 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.
My 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