When is it dark after sunset

How long after sunset is it dark

When will it’s darkish?

“How long does it take to get dark after sunset?” is a extremely sensible query to ask as an astronomer!

Reading: When is it dark after sunset


Properly, it’s worthwhile to know when it’s going to be correctly darkish so you possibly can determine when it’s value getting exterior and looking on the evening sky. Go too early and also you gained’t see all that you simply hoped for… however when is simply too early?

In the event you’re within the US and desire a fast reply, right here it’s…

It is going to be darkish sufficient to see deep house objects

  • For southern states: round 70 minutes after sundown
  • For northern states: round 100 minutes (1 hour 40 minutes) after sundown

There’s variation in that in your specific latitude, the season and the way darkish you need it to be, although.

So, if you wish to uncover extra about how lengthy it takes to get darkish after the solar units, then learn on…

What’s Astronomical Twilight?

You’ll have heard of astronomical twilight (sure, it’s a actual factor) however it is just the final and darkest of three recognised twilight phases.

Every twilight section is set by how far the solar is under the horizon:

  • Civil Twilight – begins at sundown (the centre of the solar is at 0° elevation) till it’s 6° under the horizon
  • Nautical Twilight – begins when civil twilight ends and lasts till the centre of the solar is 12° under the horizon
  • Astronomical Twilight – the final and darkest of the twilights. It begins when the solar is 12° under the horizon and ends when it reaches 18° under

As soon as the solar strikes greater than 18° under the horizon, it’s formally ‘night’ and there’s no daylight lighting your location, good for taking pictures of the evening sky.

What Can I See Throughout Twilight?

Every of the three twilights has completely different ranges of seeing, each down right here on Earth and up within the evening sky. Since we don’t understand how far under the horizon the solar is, this easy information will aid you decide based mostly on native situations:

Civil Twilight

  • On the bottom, you possibly can nonetheless see the whole lot clearly with out additional illumination, you possibly can nonetheless learn a guide, for instance. In direction of the tip of this era, automotive headlamps should be switched on and streetlamps can be lit.
  • Within the sky, solely the brightest objects can be seen, comparable to Venus and Mercury

Nautical Twilight

  • On the bottom, gentle has pale now and objects turn out to be arduous to tell apart from the background or one another. They appear extra like silhouettes. You’ll want extra lighting to hold on outside actions.Your color-seeing provides strategy to shades of grey as there isn’t any longer sufficient gentle in your eyes to see in colour.
  • Within the sky, the celebs come out now and constellations might be clearly seen. The sky itself will flip darkish blue, and be black on the horizon reverse the place the solar set.

Astronomical Twilight

  • On the bottom, it’s what we might all name evening. It’s really darkish. You’ll maybe see the sky as darkish blue or off-black on the horizon nearest the solar, in any other case the sky can be black.
  • Within the sky, you’ll now be capable of see deep house objects (with considered one of these telescopes), though seeing is compromised a bit nearest the horizon the place the solar set earlier.


For many of us, there’s little to inform completely different between astronomical twilight and evening, apart from slight variations in sky brightness on the horizon of the setting solar.

At this level, the solar locations no restrict on the objects you possibly can see (besides by reflecting off the Moon in fact).

The reverse of those phases is true as we head in direction of dawn. Evening provides strategy to astronomical twilight, then nautical twilight and at last civilian twilight, which ends with the solar rising.

Why is it Not Darkish as Quickly because the Solar Units?

It’s an affordable query to ask.

If the supply of our daylight has gone under the horizon, why does it take so lengthy to truly get darkish?

Civil twilight, when the sun is below the horizon but you can still see clearly.

Why is it not darkish as quickly because the solar units?

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If we lived on a flat disc (like our ancestors believed) and the solar brushed the sting of it because it set, it might certainly get night-dark immediately the solar was out of sight.

However, we don’t.

The Earth is a sphere, has a deep ambiance and our solar is round 93 million miles away. When it units under the horizon, the solar continues to shine on the ambiance above the Earth’s floor.

In the event you’ve ever taken a flight in the beginning or finish of a day, you’ve in all probability skilled this for your self.

Think about you’re on a aircraft excessive above your buddy on the bottom under. Because the solar units under the horizon for them, you’ll nonetheless see it above the horizon. It’s nonetheless shining on the ambiance you might be flying in however shouldn’t be lighting the bottom beneath you.

The daylight hits the ambiance stuffed with fuel molecules like oxygen and nitrogen. These gases trigger gentle to bounce round, or ‘scatter’. A number of the scattered gentle hits our eyes and so we see the world lit, for a short while, after the solar has set.

The solar persevering with to shine on the ambiance after it units under the horizon is why we’ve got three completely different twilights:

How long it takes to get dark after sunset

How a lot ambiance is lit by the solar after sundown (supply)

  • For the time being of sundown, the entire ambiance above our heads continues to be lit by the solar, however the quantity shrinks quickly all through civil twilight
  • On the finish of civil twilight (i.e. solar is 6° under the horizon), not one of the ambiance above our heads (the zenith) is now lit by the solar. Nevertheless, nonetheless a 3rd of the ambiance above the horizon is lit by the solar, which we see as lighter blue skies
  • By the beginning of astronomical twilight (12° under the horizon), solely the very highest layers of the ambiance on the horizon the place the solar set are nonetheless lit
  • When astronomical twilight provides strategy to evening at 18° under the horizon, not one of the ambiance we are able to see is lit by the solar

Now you perceive the idea of twilight, how we see them and what causes them, let’s return to our unique query…

How Lengthy Does it Take to Get Darkish After Sundown?

There are two elements that decide the reply to that query:

  1. Your latitude – the nearer you might be to the equator, the faster it will get darkish after sundown
  2. The Season – In summer time it takes longer to get darkish than winter (and should not get really darkish in any respect)

The Affect of Latitude on Time to Darkness After Sundown

The solar seems to rise and set in a straight line on the equator. It rises within the east, goes straight overhead (i.e. the zenith) at noon and units straight down within the west.

The solar seems to set at proper angles to the horizon. It sinks previous 6°, 12° and 18° under the horizon a lot quicker than it does nearer to the poles.

Nearer to the poles, the solar takes a extra leisurely angle by way of the sky. It rises close to the east, doesn’t go straight up, doesn’t get as excessive because the zenith at noon and units close to the west.

This flatter angle means it takes longer for the solar to succeed in 6°, 12° and 18° under the horizon… so it takes longer to get darkish.

This may be arduous to visualise (there’s a terrific clarification right here) so it’s less complicated to point out you with a selected instance.

How Lengthy it Takes to Get Darkish After the Solar Units

Let’s take the March equinox (round March twentieth) the place the size of day is just about the identical for everybody.

Within the desk under, we’ve in contrast the time from sundown to nighttime for the cities of Quito in Ecuador (which is close to the equator), Key West (south US), Kansas Metropolis (central US) and Anchorage (north US).

MetropolisCivil Twilight (Sundown)Nautical TwilightAstronomical TwilightTrue Evening

You’ll be able to see clearly that it takes so much much less time to get darkish on the equator than it does even in Key West. As we transfer northwards, away from the equator, that point will get longer nonetheless.

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On the equator, in Quito, nautical twilight begins solely 20 minutes after sundown, in contrast with 23 minutes in Key West, 26 minutes in Kansas Metropolis, and 44 minutes in Anchorage.

And, keep in mind, these instances are all the identical day.

If we are saying that ‘night’ is our measure of when it’s really darkish, then the variations are even larger.

In Quito, it solely takes simply over an hour (68 minutes) to get darkish after sundown on the spring equinox. Transfer north from there and it takes 76 minutes in Key West, 90 minutes in Kansas Metropolis and virtually 2 and a half hours up in Anchorage.

The Affect of Season on Time to Darkness After Sundown

On any given day, as you’ve simply seen, it’s going to take longer to get darkish the additional away you might be from the equator.

No matter your location, although, it takes barely longer to get darkish the nearer to summer time we’re. The distinction is small, being just a few minutes for mainland USA.

The largest influence for summer time darkness is that, in the event you stay far sufficient north, there are durations when there isn’t any true ‘night’ in any respect.

Take Alaska, for instance. For many of June, the solar isn’t greater than 6° under the horizon. Which implies it by no means will get previous civil twilight, so you possibly can learn exterior all evening with out an additional supply of sunshine!

You in all probability know that the north pole has 24hr daylight in summer time, however come all the way down to the contiguous states and the summer time influence shouldn’t be as marked.

Except you reside within the excessive north of the nation (inside about 15 miles of the Canadian border), you’ll expertise true, darkish ‘night’ each single day of the yr.

For instance, even the continental US’s northernmost huge metropolis, Seattle, has 2 hours of evening on the longest day of the yr.

But, just some miles north, at Bellingham within the north-west nook of Washington state, it’s a special story. They’ve round two weeks in mid-June the place astronomical twilight doesn’t finish earlier than the solar begins to rise once more, there isn’t any ‘night’.

Recap of How Lengthy Darkness Takes After Sundown

So, there you may have it, an entire reply.

In abstract, for the 48 contiguous states, it takes anyplace from 70 to 100 minutes for it to get darkish after sundown.

The additional north you might be, the longer it takes for true darkness to reach after sunset.

In the event you stay on the northern border with Canada, you’ll expertise nights in mid-June the place it by no means will get really darkish in any respect. All over the place else* does expertise not less than some really darkish nighttime day by day of the yr.

If you wish to uncover the twilight instances in your location on any given day, then try Time and Date’s dawn and sundown calculator.

*Outdoors of Alaska, the place it could take twice as lengthy and by no means will get really darkish in June

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