diamond geezer

 Friday, June 17, 2005

West is where the Sun sets* [* but only very occasionally]

People* [* see yesterday's comments box] often say that the Sun sets in the west (and rises in the east). But it doesn't. The Sun only sets precisely due west on the day of the spring or autumn equinox* [* even if you live on the equator]. Tonight (with the summer solstice fast approaching) the Sun will set in the northwest instead* [* as seen from London], having been precisely due west at around twenty past five this afternoon. How do I know? From this rather brilliant website. It features a Solar Location Diagram for every week of the year, showing exactly how high and in what direction the Sun appears in the sky* [* as seen from London]. The 'flapping' line at the top of the main page (showing the Sun's daily path throughout the year) is one of the most impressive 'summary graphics' I've ever seen. It's a fascinating* site [* and dead useful to anybody who takes photos and wants to get 'the light' right]. I've used the information provided to compile the table below, showing sunset data from winter solstice to winter solstice. See, the Sun doesn't* [* usually] set in the west.

Sunset information (London)
DateSunsetBearing*  Compass
Dec 213:53pm GMT231°SW
Jan 214:30pm GMT238°SW by W
Feb 215:26pm GMT254°WSW
Mar 216:15pm GMT    270°W
Apr 218:05pm BST290°WNW
May 21  8:54pm BST305°NW by W
Jun 219:21pm BST311°NW
Jul 219:04pm BST305°NW by W
Aug 218:10pm BST290°WNW
Sep 217:00pm BST271°W
Oct 215:54pm BST253°WSW
Nov 214:03pm GMT237°SW by W
Dec 213:53pm GMT231°SW
[* from true north, at the horizon]

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