MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: Does the sun always rise in east and set in west?

Date: Thu Jan 11 21:41:24 2001
Posted By: Steven Furlanetto, Grad student, Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 979251082.As

Yes, the sun ALWAYS rises in the east and sets in the west. This is because the earth spins on its axis, from west to east. The spinning is what causes the day/night cycle; the earth completes one rotation in 24 hours. For the same reason, at night, the stars move from east to west across the sky.

Added by Charles Willock (visitor to MadSci), 1/22/2005
"Does the sun always rise in east and set in west?" would seem to be much stronger than is observed in reality - since, while that answer might be true at the equator and for most latitudes at the equinoxes it does not apply everywhere nor at most other times of the year.

As a specific example: for places on the Antarctic circle, at the summer solstice the sun "rises in the South and sets in the South". At the winter solstice the sun "rises in the North and sets in the North". The exact opposite is true for inhabitants on the Arctic circle.

(Just to be clear, this isn't just a subtle matter of "rising a few degrees South of East" or anything like that - it really does "rise in the South and set in the South".)

To be fair there are a lot of websites out there that make the same mistake ... but perhaps an accurate answer would be more appropriate for a site of your quality.

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