On Earth, daytime is the period of the day during which a given location experiences natural illumination from direct sunlight. Daytime occurs when the Sun appears above the local horizon, that is, anywhere on the globe's hemisphere facing the Sun. In direct sunlight the movement of the sun can be recorded and observed using a sundial that casts a shadow that slowly moves during the day. Other planets and natural satellites that rotate relative to a luminous primary body, such as a local star, also experience daytime, but this article primarily discusses daytime on Earth.
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 Daytime variations with latitude and seasons
- 3 See also
- 4 References
Approximately half of the Earth is illuminated at any time by the Sun. The area subjected to direct illumination is almost exactly half the planet; but because of atmospheric and other effects that extend the reach of indirect illumination, the area of the planet covered by either direct or indirect illumination amounts to slightly more than half the surface.
The hemisphere of the Earth experiencing daytime at any given instant changes continuously as the planet rotates on its own axis. The axis of the Earth's rotation is not perpendicular to the plane of its orbit around the Sun (which is parallel with the direction of sunlight), and so the length of the daytime period varies from one point on the planet to another. Additionally, since the axis of rotation is relatively fixed in comparison to the stars, it moves with respect to the Sun as the planet orbits the star. This creates seasonal variations in the length of the daytime period at most poi... ...read more