RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Have you noticed that the sun is setting a little bit later each day? Many think that the sun begins to set later right after the first day of winter, but the sunset time actually changes a bit before that.

The winter solstice — also known as the first day of winter — has the shortest amount of daylight for us. This year, the solstice was on Dec. 21 and had a total of 9 hours, 34 minutes and 16 seconds of daylight. But in Richmond, the earliest sunset of the season occurred more than two weeks previously.

The last day that the sun set earlier than the previous was Dec. 5, with sunset at 4:51 p.m. Since then, the sun has been setting later and later each day, if only by mere seconds.

If you set up your outdoor Christmas decorations shortly after Thanksgiving and you are using a timer that turns on at dusk, you might have noticed those lights were coming on pretty early at first. But now they seem to be coming on a bit later — maybe closer to 5:15 p.m.

If you’re curious about when our latest sunrise occurs, that won’t happen until Jan. 5, 2023, when the sun will rise at 7:24 a.m. After that, the sun will start to rise earlier every day.

Are you already counting down the days until spring? The Vernal Equinox, or the first day of spring, will occur on March 20, 2023. On that day, we will have 12 hours, 9 minutes and 48 seconds of daylight.