What time is it? Answer: it's Daylight Savings Time, which means that you are an hour behind the rest of the world if you didn't spring ahead last night before bed. For astronomers, the end of Standard Time is a tale of give and take. For the good news, no more need to get up really early to observe the sky (for a few weeks, anyway) but a new need to stay up late as darkness gets pushed back an hour overnight.
So, why do we switch the time, anyway?
While time shifts to economize on energy usage had been proposed since the 18th century, the catalyst for starting DST: World War I. In 1916, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their allies) shifted their clocks an hour forward to save on coal usage by delaying nightfall an hour. The allied Powers (The U.S., Britain, France, and Russia) all eventually followed suit. After the Great War, by which it was then known, was over, so was the time shifting business until, you guessed it, WWII. Funny how wars spur things to get done.
As for astronomy, there are some very practical implications.
Besides forcing one to wait an hour longer in order get dark skies, the return of Daylight Savings Time means that, literally overnight, the summer constellations take a big step into morning visibility, for a short while until the lengthening of the days pushes sunrise earlier and earlier. Want to get a summer preview of Scorpius, Sagittarius, and the Summer Triangle among others? Well, now's your chance.
See also: More DST Trivia
By springing the clocks forward, nightfall is pushed back an hour. So, at mid Northern latitudes like we have here in the Cleveland area, the Sun currently sets at around 6:30pm, but it doesn't get truly dark until around 8:00pm. By pushing sunset back to 7:30pm and dark sky arrival to 9:00pm, the days left to observe the winter sky in the dark will be numbered, which is a real bummer, especially considering that December through February is cloud season in Northeast Ohio, meaning that astronomers get very little chances to view the winter sky as is.
So, wherever you live, be sure to get out and view the early morning sky as, clouds willing,the summer sky holds some of the best deep sky objects and constellations of all the seasons. Whether you are strictly observational, photographic, or a combination of both, there is much enjoyment to be had in the morning, so don't let Daylight Savings Time bum you out.
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Bodzash Photography & Astronomy