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WeatherTalk: Sunrise and sunset depends on where you are on Earth

Because the angle of the sun varies with latitude, the length of the twilight period also varies.

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FARGO — Sunrises and sunsets are latitude-dependent. Because the angle of the sun varies with latitude, the length of the twilight period also varies, depending on how far north or south the observer is. In the tropics, early morning and late evening periods are brief because the sun is rising and setting very quickly.

This is because in tropical latitudes, the sun's path across the sky is almost perpendicular to the horizon. When the sun rises or sets it does so straight up and down. Here in the mid-latitudes, the sun's path across the sky is at a more oblique angle, so the sunrises and sunsets take much longer. In the polar regions, the solar angle is so oblique that winter is continuously dark and summer is continuously light while twilight lingers through most of the spring and fall.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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