Where Does the Sun Rise and Set?

The sunrise in Thailand.
The sunrise in Thailand.

The sun rises from the east and progressively moves westwards as sunset approaches. Locations in the eastern side of the earth experience sunlight before locations in the west which results in a difference in time zones. Regardless of whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, the sun will always rise in the east and set in the west. The sun, the stars, and the moon rise in the east and always set in the west because the earth spins towards the east.

Why Does the Sun Rise in the East?

Every morning, depending on the moment of the earth's rotation, we see the sun rise from its horizon in the east. The rising and setting of the sun varies all year round depending on a number of reasons. The timing of the sunrise is affected by the altitude, time zone, longitude, and latitude of the viewer. The axial tilt of the Earth highly affects sunrise as well as the movement of the planet on the annual elliptical orbit.

The Equinox

When we say that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west we have to understand the issue of the equinox. The sun only rises in the exact east and sets in the exact west two days of the year. Irrespective of where one is on the universe the sun will be seen to rise from the exact east and set in the exact west on March 21 and September 21. The two dates are known as fall equinox and spring equinox. On other days, the sunrise will alter and rise in either north of exact east or south of exact west. The sun rising in extreme northeast and setting in the extreme northwest is observed during the summer solstice. In winter solstice, the sun rises in farthest southeast and sets in the furthest southwest. The solstice is caused by tilting of the earth as it eccentrics on the orbit.

The Position of the Sun in Relation to the Planet

Despite the observation that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it actually stays in one position. The sun is centered in the solar system, therefore, it neither rises nor sets. The observation of rising and setting of the sun is due to the rotation of the earth. The process takes place every 24 hours and the rotation is towards the east. As the earth rotates clockwise, the sunlight reaches different parts of the earth at different times. The first points to receive the sun rays are in the east. As the points begin to leave the light of the sun due to progression in the rotation, darkness begins to set in. The general appearance is that it set to the west. The fact is that the sun appears to be revolving around us basically because the earth not only orbits it but also does rotate on its axis as it is revolving.


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