sunset - alvesgaspar - CC BY SA 3_0-300x213As you know, the Easter Vigil must begin in darkness. Click here for more information on why. Based on sunset information from the U.S. Naval Observatory:

Easter Vigil this year (April 19, 2014) in the Diocese of San José cannot begin any earlier than 8:15 p.m.

From the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department, the following information is provided for San Jose, Santa Clara County, California (longitude W121.9, latitude N37.3):

Saturday, 19 April 2014, Pacific Daylight Time

  • Sunset 7:46 p.m.
  • End civil twilight 8:14 p.m.

If sunset is at 7:46 p.m., why can’t we begin Easter Vigil 2014 at 7:46 p.m.?

Because there is a big technical different between “sunset” and “civil twilight.” The technical definition of “sunset” is when the upper edge of the sun hits the horizon. At this point (7:46p) there’s still some daylight in the sky. But what we’re looking for is complete darkness.

Civil twilight in the evening is technically when the center of the sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. At this time (8:14p) there’s still enough light to see the horizon, but it’s dark enough to see the brightest of stars in the sky. Complete darkness, however, begins sometime after the end of evening civil twilight.

So 8:15p is the earliest time we can begin the Easter Vigil in 2014. If you really want to start in complete darkness, wait until 8:30p.

Click here for more information on rise, set, and twilight.

Photo: alvesgaspar, CC-BY-SA 3.0