Q:

# Why do shadows change length?

A:

Shadows change length due to the constant change in the angle of the sun’s rays. Light falling on an opaque object casts a shadow in the opposite direction to the source of light.

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When the angle of the sun’s rays or any other source of light is shallow, the shadow tends to be longer. As the sun climbs higher, the angle of the sun’s rays becomes steeper and, consequently, shadows become smaller. When the sun is exactly overhead, sunlight falls vertically downwards, and the shadow is shortest. Similarly, even if an artificial source of light is exactly overhead, the shadow is beneath the object and shortest.

At sunrise and sunset, shadows are long but very faint, as light is not intense.

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## Related Questions

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Tan inverse is the function used to determine an angle when given the ratio between the length of the side opposite the angle over the length of the side adjacent to the angle. It is sometimes indicated by the terms "arctan" and "atan."

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"Cot" is the abbreviation for "cotangent," a trigonometric function used to find the value of an angle in a right triangle by dividing the length of an adjacent side by the length of the opposite side. The numerical value of cot x varies depending on the value of x.

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The change in seasons is caused by the varying angle of the Earth's tilt from one part of the year to another. A common misconception is that the change in seasons is due to the Earth's slightly elliptical orbit bringing the planet closer to the sun in summer, but, as About.com notes, seasons are different in the northern hemisphere and the southern, which are the same distance from the sun.