This is something I’ve thought about fairly often but could never really visualize, until now.
Below are two Sun Path Diagrams, one for St. Petersburg, Russia and one for Athens, Georgia, my home towns. They show the sun path and sunrise and sunset on the longest and shortest days of the year. (I got them here.)
Here’s the key — the Green line is the path of the sun on the June 21 (the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere); the Blue line is the path of the sun on December 21 (the shortest day). The Orange line is for November 9, 2010.
So you can see a few interesting things —
In St. Pete on June 21 sunrise is at 4:35am (rising in the NE) and sunset is at 11:26pm (in the NW). The sun at its height is at about 50 degrees. Look at the path of the sun. It’s really amazing, so very different from what I grew up with (below).
On December 21 sunrise is 10am (in the SE) and sunset is at 3:54pm (in the SW). With the sun only about 8 degrees above the horizon max. That doesn’t give much sunshine!
And for fun here is Tulcán, Ecuador, VERY close to the equator:
And here is Inari, Finland, in Lapland, above the Arctic Circle:
The sun doesn’t rise on December 21, and it doesn’t set on June 21. Very cool. I’d love to go there sometime.