May 18, 2009

China mysteries: way too early sunrises

In your city, what time does the sun rise in the summer? 5:30 AM, maybe 6-ish? Sounds pretty normal.

In Beijing, in the middle of summer, the sun rises at 4:45 AM. If you're a study-abroad college student, that's about the time you're coming back from a night of hard drinking and rave parties. The last thing you want to see is sunlight.

Here's a sampling of some major world cities in the northern hemisphere, along with their respective sunrise times on June 14, 2009 (from this sunrise calculator)
  • Bangkok: 5:50 AM
  • Paris: 5:47 AM
  • Los Angeles: 5:41 AM
  • Zurich: 5:29 AM
  • Dubai: 5:28 AM
  • New York City: 5:24 AM
  • Chicago: 5:15 AM
  • Beijing: 4:45 AM
It's pretty well-known that China has just one gigantic time zone for the whole massive country; what people don't usually notice until they spend the night in Beijing is that the summer sunrises are ridiculously early.

What's the attraction to having such an early sunrise in the summer? Why not implement daylight savings time so people can have a little more sunlight in the evenings? Kids would enjoy the extra hour outside.

Another great mystery.

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