How to Calculate the Winter Solstice Sun Angle

How to Calculate the Winter Solstice Sun Angle
••• sakepaint/iStock/GettyImages

During a solstice, which occurs around Dec. 21 and June 21 every year, the Earth's axis is positioned relative to the sun such that one hemisphere is closest to the sun and the other is farthest from the sun. The hemisphere farthest from the sun experiences the winter solstice, with the direct rays of the sun falling 23.5 degrees north of the equator. Calculate the sun angle during the winter solstice for your location by determining your latitude and doing two simple calculations.

    Consult an atlas or a geographical website to find the latitude of your location on Earth. For example, if you live in Cape Canaveral, Fla., your latitude is 28° 24' 21" N, or approximately 28.4 degrees.

    Add 23.5 degrees to your latitude to compensate for the fact that the sun's direct rays fall on one of the tropic lines during the winter solstice: the Tropic of Cancer for the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn for the southern hemisphere. For example, if you live in Cape Canaveral, add 23.5 to 28.4 to get 51.9 degrees.

    Subtract this value from 90 degrees to get the angle of elevation from the horizon of the sun during midday on the winter solstice. In the above example, subtract 51.9 from 90 to get 39.1 degrees. This is the angle of elevation of the sun in Cape Canaveral at midday.

Related Articles

How to Calculate The Sun's Altitude
What Are the Five Major Lines of Latitude?
How to Convert Latitude Degrees to Decimal
How To: Degree to Radian Conversion
How Do I Calculate Latitude Differences?
How to Calculate Longitude from Right Ascension
How to Use a Protractor to Measure a Triangle
How to Convert Arcseconds to Parsecs
How to Determine the Length of a Shadow
How to Find Degrees in Polygons
How to Calculate Sides of a Triangle
What Is Solar Altitude?
How to Convert Radian to Minutes
How to Calculate the Confidence Interval of the Mean
How to Calculate the Diameter of a Circle From a Linear...
How to Find the Distance Between Two Points on a Circle
Where Are the Temperate Zones Located?
What Is the Geographic Grid?
How to Solve a Hexagon
How to Teach Kids About Longitude and Latitude

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!