How can I calculate the position or path of the Sun for a given time and location? (Intermediate)

I'm trying to figure out how to calculate the location of the sun in the sky (angle above horizon) for a certain date & time of day. For the city & state I live in I know the time of sun rise on a given date. Is there someplace I can get the calculation to figure this out myself or a web site that can do this for me?

The U.S. Naval Observatory has an online tool to tabulate the position of the Sun (or Moon) during one day. The angle above the horizon is the altitude, and the angle around the horizon, measured clockwise from due north, is called the azimuth.

If you are a glutton for punishment, you can calculate it yourself.

Update by Lynn (March 11, 2003): One reader e-mailed us and suggested the Approximate Astronomical Positions site, which will calculate positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. It also gives equations for many calculations and has links to sites explaining many of the calculations. This is another good place to look if you want to calculate things yourself.


This page was last updated on June 27, 2015.

About the Author

Britt Scharringhausen

Britt studies the rings of Saturn. She got her PhD from Cornell in 2006 and is now a Professor at Beloit College in Wisconson.

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