Now there’s a common question I get asked!
The answer is: “It depends on the time of year.”
I was reminded of this anomaly of chronology when Chilean time sprang forward this morning while time for folks in the USA and Europe will not fall back for a couple more weeks.
If you look at a map in the seat pocket in front of you on a commercial airline, or if you consult an atlas, you will see that (technically) Chile is one time zone ahead of New York and the Eastern Time Zone. That is, it is only 4 hours behind Greenwich mean time.
However, being in the southern hemisphere creates an interesting anomaly with time. Right now, people in Chile are seeing new growth and budding trees while people in much of the USA are seeing tree leaves turn colors.
When most of the USA is on daylight savings time, Chile is on standard time (with the exception of two weeks as explained below). Thus, even though Chile is one time zone closer to Greenwich, from March through October noon in Chile is the same as noon in New York.
Because the seasons are reversed between the northern and southern hemispheres, when Chile “springs forward” in October the USA is about to “fall back”. When this process is completed, there ends up being two hours difference in time. Thus, noon in Chile will be 10am in New York from late October to early March. And Chile will only be three or four hours behind most of Europe.
However, that is not the end of the story. Chile switches from standard to daylight savings time at different times of March and October than in the USA. Chile switches earlier in both months. That means that for two or maybe three weeks during those months there is only one hour difference between the time in Chile and the time in New York.
So what time is it in Chile? For 5 1/2 months it is the same time as New York, for 5 1/2 months it is two hours ahead of New York, and for 1 month it is one hour ahead of New York.
Bonus question: “Is the longest day of the year in December or June?”
Double bonus question: “My oldest son Joshua was born on June 20, 1988 in Lihue, Hawaii. He is an American citizen but is also a permanent resident of Chile. Is his birthday on or about the shortest or longest day of the year?” “What should he tell people?”
Triple bonus question: “If the stellar navigation point in the northern hemisphere is the North Star, what is it in the southern hemisphere?” “Do the constellations differ between the two hemispheres?”