Sunset was quite early today.
Today is the Winter Solstice, traditionally the day that marks the shortest day of the year. Sure this means we don't get a lot of sunshine today, but on the plus side the Solstice marks the time when the days begin to get longer.
However, though today is the Solstice, the actual shortest day of 2012 will be tomorrow.
According to timeanddate.com the December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. It is normally on Dec. 21, but the actual shortest day can be between Dec. 20 and 23 depending on the year.
According to sunrisesunset.com, the shortest day of the year in this area will be on Dec. 22. On that day the sun will rise at 7:12 a.m. and set at 4:15 p.m. After that date, the days will begin to get longer. Dec. 23, for example, will see the sun setting at 4:16 p.m.
The sun will set at 4:21 on New Year's Eve.
Of course the real change in the time of the sunset will come with the start of Daylight Saving 2013 when we "spring ahead" and move the clocks up an hour. That will take place on March 10. On March 9, the sun will set at 5:43 p.m. and on March 10 we will have sunlight until 6:45 p.m.