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# How do you calculate sun angles?

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Calculating the angle of the sun from the horizon requires measuring tools and some mathematical calculations. This experiment works best on a bright day, when the sun creates a distinct shadow.

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Find a stick that can be driven into the ground sturdily enough to stand upright. Using a meter stick or a tape measure, measure the length of the stick and the length of the shadow it casts. Record length measurements in whichever system is easiest, just be sure that the same system is used for both measurements. Also, be sure to note the month and time of day. To calculate the sun's angle, divide the length of the stick by the length of the shadow. Next, find the inverse tangent of that value - use tan^-1 for the inverse tangent. If using a scientific calculator, be sure that it is set to degrees and not radians.

Repeating the above experiment multiple times a day, over a course of time, eventually yields a table of sun angle values. Use sun angle tables to provide sun angle calculators. Interested parties simply plug in data on location, time of day and time of year to find valuable information, such as sun height and angle.

Sun angle has a great impact on climate. When the sun's angle is low, the light is spread over a greater area. This is why midday, when the sun is directly overhead and its angle is high, is hotter than morning or evening. Sun angle is also helpful in positioning solar panels for optimum energy yield.

## Related Questions

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The term for the sun going down over the horizon is "sunset." This occurs to the west due the counter-clockwise rotation of the Earth. Depending on the tilt of the Earth's axis, the sunset happens earlier in the winter and later in the summer in the northern hemisphere.

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• A:

Shadows change length throughout the day because the angle at which the sun shines on stationary objects changes with the Earth’s rotation. For example, early in the morning, when the sun is near the horizon, it casts long shadows when an object blocks the light. Conversely, when the sun is high overhead during the middle of the day, the shadows become shorter, as the angle of the sun has changed.

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The sun does not have a single uniform temperature. Instead, the sun exhibits multiple temperatures from the core to the corona, with a range of over 25 million degrees Fahrenheit.