What is the hottest time of day? (Beginner)

Me and my buddies were debating about the hottest time of the day. The internet doesn't really give me a good explanation, if you know the answer please respond back to me.

In short, noon is when you have the most direct sunlight*, and that's what's responsible for heating up the atmosphere. But, just as water doesn't start boiling the second you put it over a flame, it takes time for the atmosphere to heat up. So the hottest time of day is some time in the afternoon, but exactly when in the afternoon depends on where you are and what time of year it is. There's some more explanation on this page at the National Geophysical Data Center website.

*By "direct sunlight", I mean sunlight that gets blocked by the least amount of atmosphere. See here for details.


This page was last updated on June 27, 2015.

About the Author

Christopher Springob

Christopher Springob

Chris studies the large scale structure of the universe using the peculiar velocities of galaxies.  He got his PhD from Cornell in 2005, and is now a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Western Australia.