The rising and setting times vary slightly from day to day. At the summer solstice, the sun rises as far northeast as it ever does and sets as far northwest as it ever does. The sun rises a little more south every day after that. The sun rises straight east and sets due west during the autumn equinox. It starts getting darker earlier each night around then, so people need more light during the day. The days are still very long at the winter solstice, but the sun doesn't rise as high in the sky anymore. It stays up later in the season too.
There are two reasons why the location of sunrise and sunset changes throughout the year. First, the earth orbits the sun. So even though it's always winter somewhere on Earth, because we're not orbiting like the moon, the point of first light and last darkness will shift depending on where you are on Earth. Second, the axial tilt of the earth causes the amount of land and water exposed by the sun to change throughout the year. In the northern hemisphere, the amount of land exposed by the sun increases from about 45% in January to over 75% in July. In the southern hemisphere, the amount of land exposed by the sun decreases from about 75% in December to under 50% in March.
These two effects together mean that the location of sunrise and sunset varies slightly from day to day and from year to year.
It continues southerly until, at the winter solstice, the sun rises as far south as it ever does and sets as far southwest as it ever does. From that point on, the days get longer and the nights get shorter, culminating in spring when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky.
During the summer solstice, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and sets farthest west. It gets progressively lower in the horizon throughout the autumn equinox and all through the winter before rising again at the beginning of spring.
Thus, the sunrise during winter occurs when you first see light in the eastern sky and the sunset when you last see light in the western sky.
It is important to note that although winter days are shorter, they are not necessarily darker than summer days. The sun may rise more quickly during winter because there are fewer hours in the day. Or it might be said that the winter night is brighter than the summer night because there is less darkness to darken away.
Either way, winter has two very distinct seasons: the coldest season is called "winter", while the hottest season is called "summer".
The sun is believed to rise in the east and set in the west. However, in New York's latitude, this is not the case. The sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest on the summer solstice, while the angle reverses on the winter solstice, with the sun rising in the southeast and setting in the southwest. During other parts of the year, the sun will be at a different point on the horizon when it sets.
In addition to these geographic variations, the path that the sun takes as it sets is called its sunset route. Sunset routes are important because they affect when people can go outside and experience sunset. If the sun is expected to drop below the horizon before you can see its last glow reflected in the ocean, for example, then it's considered a dark night for those on the coast.
People love to talk about sunsets, so let's get started by learning more about where the sun sets in New York City.
New York City is located in Eastern Time which means there are five daily time zones. Directly opposite all of Manhattan is Long Island which is in the next time zone over. To make matters more complicated, there are also two major cities on Long Island: Nassau County is in the north near New Jersey and Suffolk County is in the south near South Carolina. Both have their own local times so know that when you see a city on your GPS it may not be what time it actually is in.
East The sun is believed to rise in the east and set in the west. On average, it can be said that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
North The sun appears to move north across the sky on March 21st, and south on September 22nd. North of 35 degrees N, the sun moves south along the horizon during March and north during September. Between 35 and 55 degrees N, there are two equal seasons: a northern season from March to May and a southern season from September to November. Above 55 degrees N, there is only one season: a northern season from January to February and a southern season from July to August.
West The sun is believed to rise in the east and set in the west.
Have you ever wondered why the sunset's direction changes throughout the year? The sun normally sets in the west, although technically it only sets due west at the spring and fall equinoxes. But because of the earth's rotation, we see western horizons during the day in the northern hemisphere and eastern horizons at night. As a result, there is no real west or east, only north and south.
The earth is tilted on its axis so that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun for half of each year and toward the Sun for the other half. This is called "Northern Hemi-sphere Winter." Because the path that the Sun takes across the sky is different during the day and night, seasons come and go for the Earth's surface inhabitants. Plants grow and harvest season comes around again, allowing us to have food to eat. But not all parts of the world experience winter - Antarctica is an example of this type of environment.
As for the rest of us, we see more daylight in the summer and less in the winter. So every time a sunset occurs, it is being watched by someone living in one of these regions where there is a difference between day and night.
There are two reasons why the sunset isn't visible in all places at all times of the year.
As evening approaches, the sun rises from the east and advances westward. Areas on the eastern side of the planet receive sunlight before locations on the western side, resulting in a time zone difference. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west, regardless of whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.
During the day, the sun travels across the sky at approximately 90 miles per hour, which is why we see stars that disappear below the horizon before reappearing later in life. This is called "rising" and "setting". As the earth orbits the sun, we experience both daytime and nighttime throughout the year. In January at the same location as today, the sun would be rising about 5 hours before it sets today, since it takes us around 180 degrees of earth orbit to go from sunset to sunset at their same location.
The sun appears to move across the sky because it is actually traveling around the earth during the day. If you were standing still but looking in the right direction, you would see the sun rise in the east and set in the west. But since you are moving along with the earth, you must adjust your sight line so that you are looking east when dawn breaks and looking west when dusk falls if you want to see the whole event. Since it takes about six minutes for the sun to travel from east to west during daylight savings time, people sleep an extra hour then when they aren't observing DST.