Sunrise & Sunset Reckoner
As the earth rotates, the sun appears to sweep across the
sky from east to west, and the path it follows changes from
season to season. In the northern hemisphere the sun rises
at its most southerly point in midwinter - this is known as
the winter solstice (December 21st) - and in
mid-summer at its most northerly - the summer solstice
(June 21st). Midway between those dates the sun rises
due east and sets due west on the spring equinox
(March 21st) and the autumn equinox (September 23rd).
On those dates the sun rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 6 p.m.
all over the world - the word "equinox" is from the Latin
meaning "equal night".
The point of the heavens directly above the observer is
known as the zenith, and a line drawn due south from
this point to the horizon is known as the observer's
meridian. The sun crosses the meridian at noon - at
this point it is at its highest in the sky. The time before
noon is known as ante meridian (a.m.) and after noon
is known as post meridian (p.m.).
The angle on the compass at which the sun is seen to rise is
known as the azimuth of the rising sun. Due north on
the compass is represented by 0°, east is 90° and
west is 270°. On either equinox the sun will rise at
90° and set at 270°; on the equator on that day the
noon-day sun will be seen to be directly overhead (on the
On a globe the earth will be shown as divided into lines of
latitude and longitude: the latitude is
measured in degrees north (+) or south (-) of the equator
(0°), the longitude is measured in degrees east (+) or
west (-) of the Greenwich meridian (0°) which passes
through London. The North Pole is at latitude 90°
north, while the International Date Line is at longitude
The Tropic of Cancer is a line at latitude
23½°N, and represents the northernmost point at
which the sun may be seen on the zenith at noon (on the
summer solstice). Similarily the Tropic of Capricorn
(23½°S) is the southernmost point at which the
winter solstice noon sun will be directly overhead.
On the Arctic Circle (66°N) at the winter
solstice, the sun does not rise above the horizon, while at
the summer solstice it is seen not to set. The opposite is
true for the Antarctic Circle (66°S). North or
south of these latitudes there will be longer periods of
the year with perpetual night or perpetual day.
The prediction of the time of sunrise and sunset would be
straight-forward but for the existence of Time Zones: these
are areas of the world which have agreed to a Standard Time
which (mostly) differs from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) by an
integral number of hours. By definition a time zone is an
area one hour "wide" (15° longitude) within which all
clocks will show the same time. Therefore, by the clock, the
sun will rise one hour earlier at the eastern edge of a time
zone than it will at the western edge.
The way to resolve this problem is to deal with two "types"
Apparent Time and Clock Time.
On the equinox, the sun rises at 6 a.m. Apparent
Time; the sun on any day is at its highest in the sky at
noon Apparent Time. Clock Time can be very different:
for example during the summer Britain (in common with many
other countries around the world) shifts its clocks forward
by one hour - so-called Daylight Saving Hours - so the sun
will be at its highest at 1pm Clock Time. As another
example, Iceland by choice sets its clocks to GMT, but
Reykjavik is a full 22° west of Greenwich - so the sun
rises on the equinox at 6:00am Apparent Time, 7:28am Clock
Countries nearer the equator have no requirement for
Daylight Saving Hours: their hours of daylight hardly change
through the year. Countries that do change their clocks in
summer do so on different dates: be warned!
Check for your Daylight Saving Hours here.
Symmetry applies to all the times and azimuths of sunrise
and sunset: when the sun rises at 30° east of due north,
it will set at 30° west of north, i.e. 330°.
When the sun rises at 8:00am (4 hours before noon), it will
set at 4:00pm (4 hours after noon), Apparent Time.
- From the Reckoner Index Page,
first find the area of the world, then the country, then click on
the city of your choice.
- This will take you to the correct part of the
Take a note of the time correction for the city of your
The azimuths are moderately accurate;
but read the notes below.
The times in the charts are all Apparent Time, i.e. they are
accurate for somebody standing on the meridian of that time zone.
If you haven't already read the explanation of the difference between
Apparent Time and Clock Time read it now.
- There are 52 sets of sunrise/sunset figures: one for each week of the
year. The dates are European style: day first, then month. They apply to any year.
- The times of sunrise and sunset shown are Apparent Time.
Convert from Apparent Time to Clock Time by adding (or
subtracting) the time correction previously noted.
- Very important: check for Daylight Saving Hours.
If the country name (or, in the U.S., the state name) is followed by an
asterisk *, that country/state applies Daylight Saving Hours in
summer. Double-check the dates when such hours start and finish (or click
here). As an
example, in the U.K. British Summer Time begins on the first Sunday after
the Spring Equinox (March 21st) and ends on the third Sunday after the
autumn equinox (September 23rd).
During Daylight Saving Hours,
add one hour to the times shown.
How it works
The Reckoner consists of just four pages of
sunrise/sunset predictions, running in 10° intervals
from 70° North to 50° South (contact us if you
need figures for further north/south).
The azimuths on these pages are accurate for any
The times are all Apparent Time
; i.e. they would be accurate if you were standing
on the "meridian" of a particular time zone.
The time correction figures given for each
location are calculated from the degrees of longitude east
or west of that time zone's meridian.
Consideration should be given to Magnetic
Declination, which is the difference between
True North and Magnetic North (Compass North). The
figures in these pages are True North. In many parts of4
the world, there is little practical difference, but
the closer you get to Magnetic North (or Magnetic
South), the differences can make a large difference to
the reading given by a magnetic compass. For example,
the Magnetic Declination for Cape Town, South Africa,
is a full 25° West: this means that the magnetic
compass reading for North is 25° out.
For an explanation, see:
Geological Survey of Canada: Magnetic Declination
and to find the declination for your area, see:
GSC Canadian Geomagnetic Reference Field (you will
need to know your latitude and longitude). If the
declination is 10° West, add 10° to the
compass reading; if it is 10° East, subtract
10° from the reading.
The primary purpose of these pages is as a reckoner, and
it is not designed to be used in situations where the
azimuth or time of sunrise or sunset is critical.
Nonetheless for most practical purposes the results can be
relied upon, but bearing in mind the following points:
1) The azimuths are accurate for an observer standing at
sea level and looking at a nautical horizon. It is important
to note that allowance must be made for elevation above sea
level and local horizon (e.g. mountains, buildings etc). The
angle of the sun's movement is oblique to the horizon in
northern and southern latitudes, particularly in summer; the
apparent azimuth of sunrise/sunset will thus vary according
to local conditions. This effect is least important near to
the equator, where the sun effectively rises and sets at
right angles to the horizon.
2) The compass angles given are True North: no allowance
is made for local variations in magnetic north (see
Magnetic Declination above),
nor for refraction, which varies according to climate
and local weather conditions.
For true accuracy, there is no substitute for personal
observation. Whilst it is true that Astronomical Institutes
will supply accurate azimuths in degrees, minutes and
seconds, local conditions as described above will affect the
usefulness of the result. It is better to use these figures
as a rough guide and then arrange to be there on the spot
ready to respond to local conditions.
© Location Works 2004
Sunrise/Sunset World Reckoner
Sunrise/Sunset Predictions for London 2013
You may find it useful to have a look at another helpful site: www.sunrisesunset.com