Something you might not know: Why it’s always daytime in the United Kingdom

UK Sun.png

Daylight is a commodity in the British Isles. It is daytime every single day in Blighty, but the sun is usually obscured by a haze of grey clouds that tarnish what, occasionally, would be nice, blue sky. Though even as we approach the winter months, where the days get shorter and nights come earlier, daytime will never truly cease in the United Kingdom.

The UK, formally known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also the longest country name in the world, is known for being comprised of its two named components. Great Britain is the name given to England, Scotland and Wales and, just across the Irish Sea, is the other cog in the machine – Northern Ireland, which was created when Ireland was partitioned in 1921 by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. But the United Kingdom is much more than just a cold and wet patch of Europe.

In all, there are 14 British Overseas Territories which are under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. Some are more well-known that others. Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands are two examples that most will have heard of, while Akrotiri and Dhekelia and Tristan da Cunha will certainly cause looks of confusion with some. But the overseas territories are not to be confused with the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Gurensey and the Isle of Man.

There was once the saying that “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” Despite its formal conclusion with the transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997, that still rings true today, no thanks in small part to the Pitcairn Islands. A series of four volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Pitcairn Islands became a British colony in 1838.

They provide the kingdom’s biggest daylight coverage averaging over 10 hours of sunlight per day year-round. Its alternate seasons to those in Great Britain and Northern Ireland coupled with its location within the UTC -8 time zone ensure permanent daylight in the United Kingdom.

This never lapses, either, partly due to the British Indian Ocean Territory which, like the Pitcairn Islands, is right in the middle of a large body of water. The Indian Ocean Territory is six hours ahead of the homeland so as the sun sets in Pitcairn, it is more or less in full swing at the United Kingdom’s easternmost point.

Even when Pitcairn’s next solar eclipse occurs in April 2343, the UK will still not be plunged into total darkness as the Cayman Islands, another British Overseas Territory, will only experience a partial eclipse at that time.

If you’re reading this on a cold and miserable night in London, Manchester, Edinburgh or any other part of Britain – just remember that it is daytime somewhere in the UK.