Before sharing my confusion with you, let me give you a little background.
I went to public schools in rural central Pennsylvania. Good enough school. We were pretty well taught.
Upon graduation I attended one of the many medium-sized Pennsylvania state colleges. Pretty common schools devoted traditionally to teacher training. They started out as “Normal” schools, if you can imagine me having anything to do with “normal.” Then they became State Teacher Colleges, then State Colleges and finally Universities. Slippery Rock, Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, Edinboro and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I went. You know the drill. Again, we're not talking Harvard or Yale here, but good schools.
I graduated with a B.S. in geography/earth science and went on to teach and some graduate work.
Now here's my confusion. In all my years of studying science, I never knew that the earliest sunset was not on the shortest day of the year. Winter, solstice, December 21/22, least amount of light ... no brainer, right? Wrong.
I was listening to one of the weather people on a Portland station and he kept saying “We're coming up on the earliest sunset of the year.” And I'm saying, “Dude, it's only the second week of December — this isn't the solstice. What are you talking about?” But he kept mentioning it and I kept wondering what the heck he meant. Wouldn't the earliest sunset be on the shortest day of the year? Nope.
And guess what, I'm not going to try to explain it, as some of my less seaworthy students used to say. I am handing this confusion off to all of you.
What I can tell you is this. The photo I made above is from the week of the earliest sunset. I am standing at the end of the pier at Newagen town landing aiming my camera lens at Hunting Island. The sun is going down directly behind the island. This, by the way, I think, is the area of the furthest south sunset of the year. From now on, the setting sun begins its long march back up the Sheepscot. But don't quote me on that!