Archive for Analemma

The Winter Solstice 2022

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2022 by telescoper

The Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens later today, Wednesday 21st December, at 21:48 Irish Time.

People often think that the Winter Solstice is defined to be the “shortest day” or the “longest night” of the year. The Solstice does indeed happen on the shortest day, but it is defined in astronomical terms much more precisely than that. It happens when the axial tilt of the Earth away from the Sun is greatest, so that the Sun appears in the sky with its lowest maximum elevation. The timing of this event can be calculated with great precision.

Anyway, today is the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Days will get steadily longer from then until the Summer Solstice next June.  The shortest day – defined by the interval between sunrise and sunset – is today, although not by much. Today in Dublin is shorter than yesterday by about six seconds, but tomorrow will be longer than today by less than a second.

This does not, however,  mean that sunrise will happen earlier tomorrow than it did this morning.  Actually, sunrise will carry on getting later until the new year, the length of the day nevertheless increasing because sunset occurs even later. Sunrise yesterday morning (20th December) was at 08.42 Dublin Time while today it was 08.43; the latest sunrise will be on 30th December (09.05). Sunset last night was at 16.49 and tonight it will be at 16.50. The earliest sunset this year was actually on 13th December (16:48).

These complications arise because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky, i.e. what you would measure on a sundial), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours as measured by a clock. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion). The upshot of this is that solar noon – when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky on a given day – is not always at 12 noon local mean time. Solar noon today in Ireland is actually at 12.30 Irish time. Around the time of the Winter Solstice, solar noon is getting later in the day and this will continue to happen until well into the New Year; solar noon on New Year’s Eve is at 12.34. While the interval between sunrise and sunset shrinks towards the solstice, the mid-point of this interval is drifting later in the day, making both sunrise and sunset occur later despite the gap between the two getting smaller.

The discrepancy between latest sunrise (or earliest) and the solstice varies with latitude, although if you go far enough North into the Arctic Circle, there is neither sunrise or sunset around the Winter Solstice, and if you go far enough South to the Equator the length of the day does not vary at all with time of year. The behaviour is illustrated for North America in this graphic produced by the United States Naval Observatory

If you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight shape whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The winter solstice is at the lowermost point on this curve and the summer solstice is at the top. These two turning points define the time of the solstices much more precisely than the “shortest day” or  “longest night”. The Winter Solstice is takes place at a very specific time, when the angle of tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the Sun is maximum.

Anyway, the north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component arises from the  equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve is used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset. Looking at a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2022  winter solstice shows that today is indeed the shortest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 7 hours 33 minutes and 49 seconds).

P.S. As usual, crowds gathered today at the spectacular neolithic monument at Newgrange in County Meath to observe the sunrise at the Solstice.

The Summer Solstice 2021

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2021 by telescoper

The Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens tomorrow, Monday 21st June 2021, at 04:32  Irish Time (03:32 UTC). Among other things, this means that tomorrow is the longest day of the year around these parts.  Usually I post about the Solstices and Equinoxes close to the time that they occur,  and on the same day, but because I don’t want to get up before 4.32am and few would be awake to read it then, I thought I’d do this one in advance.

Sunrise in the Dublin area is about 04:56 local time tomorrow and sunset is at 21:57: the interval between sunrise and sunset will be just about 1s longer on 21st June than today, 20th June, and 5 seconds longer than Tuesday 22nd June. The longest day will last 17 hours and 11 seconds (approximately) so make the most of it – it’s all downhill from now on!

Days will get shorter from tomorrow until the Winter Solstice in December, although this does not mean that sunset will necessarily happen earlier on 22nd  than it does tomorrow. In fact it is a little later. This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

Using a rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2021 summer solstice. This shows that the earliest sunrise was actually on 17th June and the latest sunset is on 24th.

If you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight curve whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The summer solstice is the uppermost point on this curve and the winter solstice is at the bottom. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

P.S. A bit of light googling revealed to me that if you live in York then your sunrise on 21st June 2021 is at 4.32am, precisely the same time as the Solstice.

The Winter Solstice 2020

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2020 by telescoper

The winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens tomorrow, Monday 21st December, at 10.02 Irish Time. Among other things, this means that tomorrow is the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Days will get steadily longer from then until the Summer Solstice next June.  The longest night – defined by the interval between sunset and sunrise – is tonight and the shortest day – defined by the interval between sunrise and sunset – will be tomorrow. The day tomorrow will be two seconds shorter than today, while the interval between sunrise and sunset on Tuesday 22nd December will be four seconds longer than tomorrow.

This does not, however,  mean that sunrise will happen earlier tomorrow than it did this morning. Actually, sunrise will carry on getting later until the new year, the length of the day nevertheless increasing because sunset occurs later. Sunrise this morning (20th December was at 08.37 Dublin Time while tomorrow it will be at 08.38. Sunset tonight will be at 16.07 and sunset tomorrow will be at 16.08.

These complications arise because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight shape whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The winter solstice is the lowermost point on this curve and the summer solstice is at the top. These two turning points define the time of the solstices much more precisely that the “shortest day” or  “longest night”.

Incidentally, the Tropic of Capricorn is the circle of latitude (about 23.5°, the declination of the Sun at the Winter Solstice) that contains the subsolar point at the December solstice. This is therefore the most southerly latitude on Earth where one can see the Sun directly overhead.

Anyway, the north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

Using a more rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2020  winter solstice. This shows that tomorrow is indeed the shortest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 7 hours 29 minutes and 57 seconds).  The table also shows that sunset already started occurring later in the day from 17th December,  before the winter solstice, and sunrise will continue to happen later  after the solstice, notwithstanding the fact that the interval between sunrise and sunset gets longer from tomorrow onwards.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

The Summer Solstice 2020

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2020 by telescoper

The Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens this evening, Saturday 20th June 2020, at 22:43 Irish Time (21.43 UTC). Among other things, this means that today is the longest day of the year. This is an earlier day in June than you might expect, primarily because 2020 is a leap year.

Days will get shorter from today until the Winter Solstice in December, although this does not mean that sunset will necessarily happen earlier tomorrow than it does today. In fact it is a little later. This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

Using a rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2020 summer solstice. This shows that today is indeed the longest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 17 hours and 10 seconds), but sunset on 21st June is actually a bit later than this evening, but sunrise is also bit later so the day is indeed (slightly) shorter.

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight curve whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The summer solstice is the uppermost point on this curve and the winter solstice is at the bottom. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

The Winter Solstice 2019

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2019 by telescoper

The winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens tomorrow, Sunday 22nd December 2019, at 04.19 Irish Time (04.19 UTC). Among other things, this means that tomorrow is the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Days will get steadily longer from now until the Summer Solstice next June.  In fact, the interval between sunrise and sunset tomorrow will be a whole second longer tomorrow than it is today. Yippee!

This does not mean that sunrise will happen earlier tomorrow than it did this morning, however. Actually, sunrise will carry on getting later until the new year. This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight shape whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The winter solstice is the lowermost point on this curve and the summer solstice is at the top. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

Using a more rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2019 winter solstice. This shows that tomorrow is indeed the shortest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 7 hours 29 minutes and 58 seconds).  The table also shows that sunset already started occurring later in the day before the winter solstice, and sunrise will continue to happen later for a few days after the solstice, notwithstanding the fact that the interval between sunrise and sunset gets longer from today onwards.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

The Summer Solstice 2019

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2019 by telescoper

The Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens today, Friday 21st June 2019, at 16.54 Irish Time (15.54 UTC). Among other things, this means that today is the longest day of the year. Days will get shorter from now until the Winter Solstice in December. Saturday June 22nd will be two seconds shorter than today!

This does not mean that sunset will necessarily happen earlier tomorrow than it does today however.  This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

Using a rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2019 summer solstice. This shows that today is indeed the longest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 17 hours and 10 seconds), but sunset on 22nd June is actually a bit later than this evening, while sunrise is a bit later.

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight curve whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The summer solstice is the uppermost point on this curve and the winter solstice is at the bottom. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

 

 

The Winter Solstice 2018

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2018 by telescoper

The winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens today, Friday 21st December 2018, at 22.23 Irish Time (22.23 UTC). Among other things, this means that today is the shortest day of the year. Days will get longer from now until the Summer Solstice next June.  In fact, the interval between sunrise and sunset tomorrow will be a whole second longer tomorrow than it is today. Yippee!

This does not mean that sunrise will happen earlier tomorrow than it did this morning, however. Actually, sunrise will carry on getting later until the new year. This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight shape whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The winter solstice is the lowermost point on this curve and the summer solstice is at the top. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

Using a more rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Dublin around the 2018 winter solstice. This shows that today is indeed the shortest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 7 hours 29 minutes and 59 seconds).  The table also shows that sunset already started occurring later in the day before the winter solstice, and sunrise will continue to happen later for a few days after the solstice, notwithstanding the fact that the interval between sunrise and sunset gets longer from today onwards.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

The Winter Solstice

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2017 by telescoper

The winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere happens today, Thursday 21st December 2017, at 16.28 GMT (16.28 UTC). This marks the shortest day of the year: days will get longer from now until the Summer Solstice next June.  In fact the interval between sunrise and sunset tomorrow will be a whole two seconds longer tomorrow than it is today. Yippee!

Anyway, in advance of this forthcoming celestial event I thought I’d present some solstitial facts for your entertainment and edification or so you can bore people with them in the pub later on.

As we were discussing in the office today, however, this does not mean that sunrise will happen earlier tomorrow than it did this morning. In fact, sunrise will carry on getting later until the new year. This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight shape whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The winter solstice is the lowermost point on this curve and the summer solstice is at the top. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

Using a more rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Cardiff (where I live) around the 2016 winter solstice. The table shows that today is indeed the shortest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 7 hours 49 minutes and 59 seconds).  The table also shows that sunset already started occurring later in the day before the winter solstice (although the weather has been too overcast to notice this), and sunrise will continue to happen later for a few days after the solstice. In fact the earliest sunset this year in Cardiff was on 12th December, and the latest sunrise will be on 30th December.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

The Winter Solstice and the Time of Sunrise and Sunset

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2016 by telescoper

You may have missed it, but the winter solstice happened today, Wednesday 21st December 2016, at 10.44am GMT (10.44 UTC). This marks the shortest day of the year: days will get longer from now until the Summer Solstice next June. As we were discussing in the pub last night, however, this does not mean that sunrise will happen earlier tomorrow than it did this morning. In fact, sunrise will carry on getting later until the new year. This is because there is a difference between mean solar time (measured by clocks) and apparent solar time (defined by the position of the Sun in the sky), so that a solar day does not always last exactly 24 hours. A description of apparent and mean time was given by Nevil Maskelyne in the Nautical Almanac for 1767:

Apparent Time is that deduced immediately from the Sun, whether from the Observation of his passing the Meridian, or from his observed Rising or Setting. This Time is different from that shewn by Clocks and Watches well regulated at Land, which is called equated or mean Time.

The discrepancy between mean time and apparent time arises because of the Earth’s axial tilt and the fact that it travels around the Sun in an elliptical orbit in which its orbital speed varies with time of year (being faster at perihelion than at aphelion).

In fact if you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at a fixed time each day from a fixed location on the Earth you get a thing called an analemma, which is a sort of figure-of-eight shape whose shape depends on the observer’s latitude. Here’s a photographic version taken in Edmonton, with photographs of the Sun’s position taken from the same position at the same time on different days over the course of a year:

maxresdefault

The winter solstice is the lowermost point on this curve and the summer solstice is at the top. The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the so-called equation of time which quantifies the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time. This curve can be used to calculate the earliest and/or latest sunrise and/or sunset.

Using a more rapid calculational tool (Google), I found a table of the local mean times of sunrise and sunset for Cardiff (where I live) around the 2016 winter solstice. The table shows that today is indeed the shortest day (with a time between sunrise and sunset of 7 hours 49 minutes and 55 seconds). The duration of the shortest day this year is 8 hours and 48 minutes shorter than the longest day (the summer solstice). The table also shows that sunset already started occurring later in the day before the winter solstice (although the weather has been too overcast to notice this), and sunrise will continue to happen later for a few days after the solstice. In fact the earliest sunset this year in Cardiff was on 12th December, and the latest sunrise will be on 30th December.

I hope this clarifies the situation.