How to Use the Sunrise & Sunset Pages
The sunrise and sunset section on our city pages tells you about sunrise and sunset times, compass headings, daylength, the 3 twilight phases, and much more.
An overview of the Sun's movements for your location is found on the Sun & Moon Today.
To change your location use the finder with the green search button.
Core Data at a Glance
The yellow band at the top contains the main Sun information for your chosen location, including:
- sunrise and sunset times, as well as daylength
- current time and date
- the Sun's current direction, altitude, and distance from Earth (updated in real-time)
- today's sunrise and sunset times and azimuths
- the upcoming solstice or equinox
- a map showing the selected location
The Yearly Sun Graph
The Yearly Sun Graph illustrates the amount of sunlight your location receives throughout the year. It also shows the 3 stages of twilight that occur between day and night.
The red and yellow lines represent solar noon and solar midnight.
The white line is set to the current date, and the times below the graph reflect this. Find the Sun times for any date by hovering your mouse pointer over the graph. Click on the graph to lock it on the date currently shown. Click again to unlock. This will give you the times for that exact date.
If the selected location uses Daylight Saving Time (DST) parts of the year, this is marked with a vertical green line in the graph. Beyond these lines, the day, night and twilight phases shift up or down to reflect the jump in civil time in relation to solar time caused by the DST switch.
The Monthly Sun Table
The table below the Yearly Sun Graph gives even more detailed information about the Sun's movements in a specific month and year. To change the month and year, use the drop-down menus on the right.
Each row in the table shows data for the date specified in the first column on the left, and you can click the row to expand it to show a graphical representation of the Sun's path on that day. Select a time of day by moving your mouse pointer over the graph.
The Sunrise/Sunset Column
The Sunrise/Sunset column shows the time when the Sun rises and sets. The arrows and angles show the azimuths (horizontal headings) of sunrise and sunset. Hover over an entry for more information. Sunrise and sunset are the times when the upper edge of the Sun's disc touches the horizon.
The times for sunrise and sunset are based on the ideal situation, where no hills or mountains obscure the view and the flat horizon is at the same altitude as the observer. If the horizon in the direction of sunrise or sunset is at a higher altitude than that of the observer, the sunrise will be later and sunset earlier than listed. The reverse is also true: on a high mountain with the horizon below the observer, the sunrise will be earlier and the sunset later than listed.
The Earth's atmosphere refracts the incoming light in such a way that the Sun is visible longer than it would be without an atmosphere. The refraction depends on the atmospheric pressure and temperature. These calculations use the standard atmospheric pressure of 101.325 kilopascals and temperature of 15°C or 59°F. A higher atmospheric pressure or lower temperature than the standard means more refraction, and therefore, the sunrise will be earlier and the sunset will be later. In most cases, however, this would affect the rising and setting times by less than a minute. Near the North and South Poles it could have greater impact because of low temperatures and the slow rate of the Sun's rising and setting.
For locations north of 66°34' N or south of 66°34' S latitude, the Sun is above the horizon all day on some days during the summer and below the horizon all day on some days during the winter.
Technically, sunrise and sunset are calculated based on the true geocentric position of the Sun at 90°50' from the zenith position (directly above the observer).
Sunrise and Sunset Azimuth
The azimuth displayed is the horizontal direction of the Sun at sunrise and sunset. As on a compass, the azimuth is measured in degrees, with 360 in a full circle, counted in a clockwise direction from north. North has an azimuth value of 0 degrees, east is 90 degrees, south is 180 degrees, and west is 270 degrees. A small arrow is displayed to indicate the map direction where the Sun will rise or set (for a map where north is upward).
Since the times used for the sunrise and sunset calculations are also used for the azimuth calculation, the actual height of the horizon and refraction as described above can influence the real direction where the Sun rises or sets.
The directions refer to true north and not to magnetic north. True north is north according to the Earth’s axis. Magnetic north is the direction in which the north end of a compass needle will point in response to the Earth’s magnetic field.
The Daylength Column
Length of day consists of two columns. Length shows the total time from sunrise to sunset on that day; Difference shows the difference in daylength compared with the previous date. The duration is shown in the hh:mm:ss format where hh stands for hours, mm for minutes, and ss for seconds. The difference is shown in minutes and seconds, with a plus sign (+) if this day is longer than the previous day and a minus sign (−) if it is shorter than the previous day.
Because of rounding, there may be a 1-second discrepancy between the Length and Diff. values.
The Twilight Columns
The three twilight columns show the start and end times for astronomical twilight, nautical twilight, and civil twilight. Each start time refers to dawn, and the end times occur at dusk.
The start and end times for each phase are grouped together, so the times are not listed in a chronological order. For a graph of the twilight phases throughout the day, see Today's Light Map on the Sun & Moon Today page.
The Solar Noon Column
This column shows the time of solar noon as well as the Sun's maximum altitude and its distance from Earth. Solar noon refers to the point in time when the Sun passes the meridian, i.e. the longitude of the location. This means that it stands directly north, overhead or south as seen from the selected location. It is the time of day when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky (except near the South and North Poles where the altitude increases or decreases all day and night).
The Time column shows when solar noon occurs on that day, in local time. Its maximum altitude is displayed in brackets next to the time. This value refers to the altitude of the Sun's center above the ideal horizon at that moment. The altitude takes into account typical refraction in the Earth's atmosphere. If the Sun is below the horizon all day, the altitude is labeled below.
The column Mil. km / Mil. mi shows the distance from the Earth's center to the Sun's center in millions of kilometers or millions of miles, depending on your settings. Subtract 660,000 kilometers or 410,104 miles to get the approximate distance between the surfaces of the two bodies. The distance varies because Earth's orbit is elliptical rather than circular. The Sun is closest on perihelion, around January 3, and most distant on aphelion, around July 5. The mean distance is 149,600,000 kilometers or 92,960,000 miles.
The distance to the Sun does not have as great an impact on the seasons as the tilt of Earth's axis.
Times are rounded to the nearest minute and should generally match closely with those listed in the annual Astronomical Almanac published jointly by H.M. Nautical Almanac Office in the U.K. and the Naval Observatory in the U.S.
A sample set of 150 records consisting of times for sunrise, sunset, and start and end times for civil, nautical, and astronomical twilight was compared with times listed in The Astronomical Almanac for 2007. Only two differed, both by only one minute, which means that just over 1.3 percent were different in that sample set.
Because times are calculated in local time, there is a chance that future times may be wrong, as changes might be made to dates of DST or in the local time zone.
In This Article
- Core Data at a Glance
- The Yearly Sun Graph
- The Monthly Sun Table
- The Sunrise/Sunset Column
- Sunrise and Sunset Azimuth
- The Daylength Column
- The Twilight Columns
- The Solar Noon Column