Sunrise on the Day After the Equinox

April 03, 2001


Provided by: Joe Orman
Summary authors & editors: Joe Orman

Since the earth's axis is tilted with respect to its orbit, the sun makes an annual migration between the southern and northern half of our sky. Twice a year, at the spring and fall equinox, the length of day and night are practically equal (the word equinox means "equal night"), and the sun rises straight east and sets straight west. I took this photo of the rising sun aligned with this east-west canal 24 hours after the spring equinox. Why didn't I take the picture on the actual day of the equinox, when the sun rises exactly east? Because (since I don't live near the equator) the sun rises at an angle; by the time it clears the distant mountains it has already shifted slightly south, as seen in the photo (see link below) taken from the same spot on the day of the equinox last year.

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