Narrow Bay Dawn | Fire Island, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Effects of latitude (equatorial)

All phases of dawn and dusk are shortest at the equator, where the Sun at equinox rises and sets at a right angle to the horizon; the steps between civil, nautical, and astronomical dawn or dusk correspond to only 24 minutes each. At all places on the earth, dawn and dusk times are fastest around the equinoxes and slowest at the summer and winter solstices.

Effects of latitude (polar)

As the calendar approaches the summer or winter solstice, the days or nights, respectively, get longer, which can have a potential impact on the time and duration of dawn and dusk. This effect is more pronounced closer to the poles, where the Sun rises at the spring equinox and sets at the autumn equinox; with a long period of dawn/dusk, lasting for a few weeks.

The polar circle (at 66°30′ N or S) is defined as the lowest latitude at which the Sun does not set at the summer solstice. Therefore the angular radius of the polar circle is equal to the angle between the plane of Earth’s equator and that of the ecliptic. This period of time with no sunset lengthens closer to the pole.

Near the summer solstice, latitudes higher than 54°30′ get no darker than nautical dawn/dusk; the “darkness of the night” varies greatly in these latitudes.

At latitudes higher than about 59°20, summer nights get no darker than civil dusk or dawn. This period of “bright nights” is longer at higher latitudes. Read more

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