Sunset | Pond Point, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

As sunrise and sunset are calculated from the leading and trailing edges of the Sun, and not the center, the duration of a day time is slightly longer than night time (by about 10 minutes, as seen from temperate latitudes). Further, because the light from the Sun is refracted as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, the Sun is still visible after it is geometrically below the horizon. Refraction also affects the apparent shape of the Sun when it is very close to the horizon. It makes things appear higher in the sky than they really are. Light from the bottom edge of the Sun’s disk is refracted more than light from the top, since refraction increases as the angle of elevation decreases. This raises the apparent position of the bottom edge more than the top, reducing the apparent height of the solar disk. Its width is unaltered, so the disk appears wider than it is high. (In reality, the Sun is almost exactly spherical.) The Sun also appears larger on the horizon, an optical illusion, similar to the moon illusion.

Locations north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle experience no sunset or sunrise at least one day of the year, when the polar day or the polar night persist continuously for 24 hours. Read more

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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