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Sunset and Sunrise Times in Places around the World

By Edited Apr 6, 2016 1 0
Sunset as seen from Portugal
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean, as seen from Portugal.

Sunset and sunrise times at different locations on the Earth's surface

There are three main factors in when the Sun sets and rises at any specific point on the Earths surface. They are coordinates (longitude and latitude), time zone, and time of year.

After explaining these factors, I will give ten examples of locations in the world, and provide the sunset and sunrise times at the two solstices and the two equinoxes, which occur each year. For those uncertain about these terms, I’ll also explain them below. Note that there is some small variation from year to year in sunrise and sunset times, so what is given below is approximate.

As a geographer, I enjoy opportunities like this to share my love of geography and our planet with others. Geography is a science that intends to understand how the world works spatially, essentially studying anything that can be portrayed on a map.[1] It has been my favorite subject since early childhood.  

Sunset and sunrise factor #1: Time of year

Winter
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Hugo Pujszo desde La Carlota, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Winter in La Carlota, Argentina.

Due to the Earth’s 23.4 degrees tilt on its axis, the planet’s poles point toward or away from the Sun, maximized at opposite points along Earth’s orbit around the Sun. These points at which the Earth’s poles are either the furthest or closest to the Sun are called the solstices.[2]

In the Northern Hemisphere, the point at which the Earth is tilted the most toward the Sun is called the Summer Solstice, which occurs in the second half of the month of June every year. It marks the first day of summer, and is the day featuring the most time with sunlight.[2][3]

The first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere is the first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, also called the Southern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice is the point at which the hemisphere experiencing it is tilted to the maximum degree away from the Sun.[2][3]

Seasons are always opposite between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and they are more pronounced with increasing distance away from the equator and toward the poles.[3]

Halfway in between each solstice, the equinoxes occur. The Northern Hemisphere’s Vernal Equinox occurs in the second half of March each year, and it is the Southern Hemisphere’s Autumnal Equinox. These mark respectively the first day of spring and the first day of autumn.[4]

Six months later, the Southern Hemisphere experiences its Vernal Equinox in late September, and the Northern Hemisphere experiences its Autumnal Equinox.[4]

Sunset and sunrise factor #2: Coordinates (longitude and latitude)

View of Earth's North Pole
Credit: Public domain.

Latitude marks distance north or south from the equator, covering 90 degrees between the equator and each pole. Thus one degree of latitude is always about 69 miles (111 km).[5]

Longitude measures east and west of the Prime Meridian, measured from there 180 degrees east or west to the International Date Line, which roughly bisects the Pacific Ocean. Longitude makes a difference in sunset and sunrise times of points at similar latitudes, but within the same time zone.[5]

For example, the country of China is nearly 3,000 miles (just over 4,500 km) across. The government has made it all one time zone.[6] Below I show as an example that sunset and sunrise in Beijing, in the eastern part of the country, is very different from a city in the western part, such as Kashi, even though they’re at almost the exact same latitude.

Sunset and sunrise factor #3: Time zone

Time Zones Map
Credit: Public domain.

Color-coded time zones of the world. I live in the dark blue Pacific Time Zone, in California.

If time zones were cut evenly around the world, at the equator each would be about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) across if there were 24 for each hour of the day. However, time zones are drawn rather arbitrarily, frequently following nations or province boundaries, and not always having increments between adjacent time zones of one hour. Sometimes there’s a two-hour, one-and-a-half-hour, or half-hour difference.[7]

Time zones obviously dictate what time it is in locations within the time zone. Also, within each time zone, there may or not be countries or other areas which recognize and adhere to a daylight savings schedule.[8]

Daylight savings causes time to be put forward one hour during summer months in the places which practice it. This has the effect of exaggerating the seasons, or the sunrise and sunset times between summer and winter.[8]

Since the equator is nearly constant all year in sunset and sunrise times, only countries some distance from the equator would potentially see a reason to use daylight savings. Most areas which use it are in the Northern Hemisphere, especially North America and Europe. Also, other locations here and there in either hemisphere use it, although most of the world doesn’t.[8] See the map below.

Areas where daylight savings is observed

Daylight Savings Map
Credit: Map created by TanoCalvenoa on InfoBarrel.

Map is current as of the publication of this article in February 2015.

The ten locations discussed in this article

Ten Locations Around the World
Credit: Created by TanoCalvenoa on InfoBarrel

Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Anchorage, Alaska
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Frank K, CC BY 2.0.

This is the largest city in Alaska. A city this far north sees a huge difference in sunset and sunrise times throughout the year, further exaggerated by the implementation of a daylight savings schedule.

Daylight savings: Yes

Hemisphere: Northern

Coordinates: 61 degrees North, 150 degrees West

Summer Solstice (June): sunset 11:40pm, sunrise 4:20am.

Autumnal Equinox (September): sunset 8:00pm, sunrise 7:45am.

Winter Solstice (December): sunset 3:40pm, sunrise 10:15am.

Vernal Equinox (March): sunset 8:20pm, sunrise 7:55pm.[9]

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Partyzane, CC BY 3.0.

This is the largest city in New Zealand, which is the southernmost part of Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. Located in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons occur oppositely from the Northern Hemisphere. As an example, winter in New Zealand is summer in the USA.

Daylight savings: Yes

Hemisphere: Southern

Coordinates: 37 degrees North, 175 degees East.

Summer Solstice (December): sunset 8:40pm, sunrise 6:00am.

Autumnal Equinox (March): sunset 7:30pm, sunrise 7:35am.

Winter Solstice (June): sunset 5:10pm, sunrise 7:25am.

Vernal Equinox (September): sunset 6:15pm, sunrise 6:15am.[9]

Beijing, China

Beijing, China
Credit: Wikipedia photo by 网友的作品, CC BY-SA 4.0.

China’s capital city is the second-largest city in China after Shanghai. As explained above, China, despite being close to 3,000 miles (just over 4,500 km) east to west, is all one time zone.[6] The example here of Beijing will next be compared to Kashi, on the western side of the country. This is to demonstrate the difference in sunset and sunrise times in two locations, within the same time zone, at about the same latitude.

Daylight savings: No

Hemisphere: Northern

Coordinates: 40 degrees North, 116 degrees East

Summer Solstice (June): sunset 7:45pm, sunrise 4:45am.

Autumnal Equinox (September): sunset 6:15pm, sunrise 6:00am.

Winter Solstice (December): sunset 4:55pm, sunrise 7:30am.

Vernal Equinox (March): sunset 6:25pm, sunrise 6:15am.[9]

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Robert Debowski, CC BY 2.0.

The capital of Germany is one of the largest cities in Europe, sitting near the approximate center of the continent. The latitude here falls in between Anchorage, Alaska and Beijing, China.

It would be expected that Berlin's sunset time during summer would be later than that of Beijing's, due to being further north, and it is even when adjusted for daylight savings which Germany has, but China does not. Also, winter's sunset time would be expected to be earlier than Beijing's, which it is by an hour.

Daylight savings: Yes

Hemisphere: Northern

Coordinates: 52.5 degrees North, 13.5 degrees East.

Summer Solstice (June): sunset 9:35pm, sunrise 4:45am.

Autumnal Equinox (September): sunset 7:05pm, sunrise 6:50am.

Winter Solstice (December): sunset 3:55pm, sunrise 8:15am.

Vernal Equinox (March): sunset 6:20pm, sunrise 6:05am.[9]

Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa
Credit: Photo is from Wikipedia by Dylan Harbour, CC BY-SA 3.0.

South Africa's capital is also its largest city. Johannesburg interestingly is the largest city in the world not located on a river, lake, or coastline.

Another city in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons here are again reverse what is seen in the United States, Canada, and other Northern Hemisphere locations.

This city is located closer to the equator, or further north, than Auckland, New Zealand, and so the seasons would be expected to be less pronounced. It can be seen that this is true, although New Zealand practices daylight savings time, and South Africa does not.

Daylight savings: No

Hemisphere: Southern

Coordinates: 26 degrees South, 28 degrees East

Summer Solstice (December): sunset 7:00pm, sunrise 5:15am.

Autumnal Equinox (March): sunset 6:15pm, sunrise 6:10am.

Winter Solstice (June): sunset 5:25pm, sunrise 6:55am.

Vernal Equinox (September): sunset 6:05pm, sunrise 6:00am.[9]

Kashi, China

Kashi (Kashgar), China
Credit: Wikipedia photo, no author listed, CC BY-SA 2.5 es

 Also called Kashgar. Located over 2,100 miles (3,400 km) west of Beijing, but in the same time zone, as explained above. This is the westernmost city in China, near the border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

These times show that Kashi and Beijing are far enough apart to make nearly a three-hour difference in sunset and sunrise times, yet they are in the same time zone.

Daylight savings: No

Hemisphere: Northern

Coordinates: 39.5 degrees North, 76 degrees East

Summer Solstice (June): sunset 10:25pm, sunrise 7:30am.

Autumnal Equinox (September): sunset 8:55pm, sunrise 8:45am.

Winter Solstice (December): sunset 7:35pm, sunrise 10:15am.

Vernal Equinox (March): sunset 9:10pm, sunrise 9:00am.[9]

Los Angeles, California, USA

Los Angeles, California, USA
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Nserrano, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Located about 50 miles (80 km) west of where I live in Southern California, this is the second-largest city in the United States after New York City. Like all major cities in California, there is the constant threat of major earthquakes.

This city is located further south than Beijing, although has daylight savings time. With the adjustment of an hour for all three seasonal points except winter, it can be seen that the expected lessening of seasonal variations in Los Angeles, compared with Beijing, are present.

Daylight savings: Yes

Hemisphere: Northern

Coordinates: 34 degrees North, 118 degrees West

Summer Solstice (June): sunset 8:10pm, sunrise 5:40am.

Autumnal Equinox (September): sunset 6:50pm, sunrise 6:40am.

Winter Solstice (December): sunset 4:50pm, sunrise 6:55am.

Vernal Equinox (March): sunset 7:05pm, sunrise 6:55am.[9]

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador
Credit: Photo is from Wikipedia by David Adam Kess, CC BY-SA 3.0.

I chose this city as an example of one located at the Earth's equator. The name of the country, Ecuador, is the Spanish word for equator. Quito's limits come within a mile (about 1 km) of the equator. The city and its metro area are located dangerously close to a stratovolcano called Cotopaxi.

The variations from season to season don’t really exist at this location.

Daylight savings: No

Hemisphere: Southern (barely, almost touches the equator)

Coordinates: 0 degrees South, 108 degrees West

Summer Solstice (December): sunset 6:15pm, sunrise 6:10am.

Autumnal Equinox (March): sunset 6:25pm, sunrise 6:20am.

Winter Solstice (June): sunset 6:20pm, sunrise 6:15am.

Vernal Equinox (September): sunset 6:10pm, sunrise 6:05am.[9]

Punta Arenas, Chile

Punta Arenas, Chile
Credit: Photo from Wikipedia by John Seb Barber, CC BY 2.0.

This is the largest city south of 46 degrees latitude, although there's very little landmass south of 46 degrees other than the southernmost part of South America, and Antarctica.

I chose this city as a Southern Hemisphere city that is nearly as far to the south, as Berlin, Germany is to the north of the equator. The seasons aren't as extreme as what's shown above for Anchorage, Alaska, but are about as extreme as you'll find in a permanent human settlement in the Southern Hemisphere.

Daylight savings: Yes

Hemisphere: Southern

Coordinates: 53 degrees South, 71 degrees West

Summer Solstice (December): sunset 10:10pm, sunrise 5:15am.

Autumnal Equinox (March): sunset 7:50pm, sunrise 7:50am.

Winter Solstice (June): sunset 4:30pm, sunrise 9:00am.

Vernal Equinox (September): sunset 7:40pm, sunrise 7:35am.[9]

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan
Credit: Photo is from Wikipedia by Cors, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The world's largest city is located at a similar latitude to Los Angeles, which is over 5,600 miles (9,000 km) away on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean. Times would be expected to be similar, except that Tokyo does not observe daylight savings for part of the year. Adjusting for daylight savings, the times are, as would be expected, very close to those of Los Angeles.

Daylight savings: No

Hemisphere: Northern

Coordinates: 36 degrees North, 140 degrees East

Summer Solstice (June): sunset 7:00pm, sunrise 4:25 am.

Autumnal Equinox (September): sunset 5:40pm, sunrise 5:30am.

Winter Solstice (December): sunset 4:30pm, sunrise 6:45am.

Vernal Equinox (March): sunset 5:55pm, sunrise 5:45 am.[9]

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Bibliography

  1. "Geography." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  2. "Solstice." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  3. "Season." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  4. "Equinox." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  5. "Geographic coordinate system." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  6. "Time in China." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  7. "Time zone." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  8. "Daylight saving time." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  9. "Sunrise and Sunset Calculator." Timeanddate.com. 27/02/2015 <Web >

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