Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2023 June 21
The Sun's path is shown while setting in multiple exposures over
three separate days. The top path was taken during a summer solstice,
the middle path during an equinox, and the lower path during a winter
solstice. The foreground shows grass and some rocks and trees.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

Three Sun Paths
Image Credit & Copyright: Marcella Giulia Pace & Giuseppe De Donà

Explanation: Does the Sun follow the same path every day? No. The Sun's path changes during the year, tracing a longer route during the summer than the winter. Pictured here, the Sun's arc was captured from noon to sunset on three days, from highest in the sky to lowest: summer solstice, equinox, and winter solstice. The images were taken near Gatto Corvino Village in Sicily, Italy in 2020 and 2021. The path and time the Sun spends in the sky is more important in determining the season than how close the Earth is to the Sun. In fact, the Earth is closest to the Sun in January, during northern winter. Today is a solstice, so today the Sun is taking its longest path of the year across the sky in Earth's northern hemisphere, but the shortest path in the southern hemisphere.

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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