Astronomy – What Time Does It Get Dark?


If you want to appreciate the night sky fully, you must understand when darkness sets in. This period is known as twilight and occurs when the sun dips below the horizon; more northern regions take longer for it to arrive.

To maximize the quality of your sleep, it is best to establish a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule and strive to wake up at the same time every morning. This will enable your body to reset its circadian rhythms more easily.

Astronomical twilight

Astronomical twilight occurs immediately following sunset when there is still light in the sky but before true darkness sets in. It usually happens when the sun has set about 18 degrees below the horizon, and all but the faintest stars can be seen, making this an excellent opportunity to view celestial bodies through telescopes or binoculars or take photographs without artificial lights.

The time required to reach astronomical twilight varies by location; generally speaking, it takes roughly 90 minutes after sunset in most cases and much sooner nearer to the Equator. Knowing when astronomical twilight ends will allow you to plan visual and astrophotography sessions accordingly.

Twilight is a soft, luminous glow created by sunlight reflecting off of atmospheric particles. A common question from new astrophotographers is whether this illumination still occurs because sunlight illuminates our atmosphere while reflecting off dust particles within our galaxy.

At nightfall, it’s also worth remembering that the twilight we see is due to Earth rotating on its axis and reflecting the Sun’s light off different parts of its surface; furthermore, the Moon’s reflection can make it appear as though the Sun is either rising or setting.

There are three forms of twilight: Civil twilight, Nautical dusk, and Astronomical twilight. Civil twilight occurs when the sun has dropped between 6-12 degrees below the horizon; nautical dusk occurs after that. Finally, Astronomical twilight occurs 18 degrees below horizontal. At this time of day, it cannot be distinguished from night but is still visible by the naked eye.

Astronomical Darkness refers to the point at which no direct sunlight reaches any given location on Earth; for example, when the Sun has moved over 2000 miles from your site, indirect light must struggle through the air to contact you.

Astronomical dusk

The time it takes for the sky to darken depends on your location and season, though northern skies typically take longer. Latitude also plays an essential factor as the closer you are to the equator; the more sunlight can reach Earth’s surface through a more transparent atmosphere; altitude also plays a significant role – nearer the equator, it might only take 20 or 30 minutes, otherwise, in the northern hemisphere, this process could last an hour!

Astronomical dusk occurs when the Sun has set 18 degrees below the horizon in the evening, and all vestiges of daylight have vanished from the sky, leaving only stars and constellations easily visible despite any light scattering due to atmospheric effects that make observing faint celestial objects difficult. Once this momentous event has passed, nightfall has fully set in and becomes known as astronomical nighttime.

To accurately locate the time of astronomical dusk in your location, some various online resources or apps can assist in pinpointing it. These tools will enable you to identify an ideal moment for stargazing or taking photographs of the sky, while some provide sunset and moonrise times specifically tailored to your location – this way, avoiding disappointment from missing celestial shows due to pollution or cloud cover.

Some websites and apps will let you know when it is astrodark, which can be especially helpful for photographers. Sky Tonight provides detailed charts on twilight duration for various regions and dates as well as displays golden and blue hours length. Among other valuable tools are Ephemeris and PhotoPills, which offer additional tools.

Understanding the difference between civil, nautical, and astronomical dusk is crucial to its enjoyment. Civil dusk occurs when the sun has dropped 6 degrees below the horizon, while nautical dusk – 12 degrees beneath – results in stars no longer visible – this marks the start of astronomical dusk, which begins when the sun drops approximately 18 degrees beneath the horizon.


Night is the period of darkness after sunset during any 24-hour day and can vary in length depending on location and season. The night also depends on how much sunlight has been blocked by Earth’s atmosphere and the atmosphere around us.

Knowing when it becomes dark is vitally essential for healthy sleeping habits; your natural sleep cycles are heavily influenced by light and darkness, and getting sufficient restful rest on a regular basis can help avoid health complications. Furthermore, knowing when it gets dark is also necessary if you plan to stargaze or photograph any sky phenomena.

Answering this question of when it gets dark depends on several variables, including latitude and season. People living closer to the equator tend to experience darkness more rapidly as Sun rays reach the horizon more quickly.

Notably, cultural variations exist regarding what defines “night.” Some cultures associate it with evil, while others use it as a time of peace and renewal. Part of what causes these cultures to associate night with corruption or violence may be fear of the unknown combined with impaired sight; these factors make people vulnerable and susceptible to attacks from criminals or animals.


Sunrise and sunset times vary with the position of the Sun. At its lowest, darkness reigns supreme in the Northern Hemisphere at the winter solstice (December 21) before slowly lengthening until the Summer solstice (June 21). Daylight hours vary due to the tilting Earth’s axis and the orbit of the Moon; therefore, they determine the length of daylight during each season.

Mornings tend to be darker because the Sun doesn’t rise until after civil twilight has ended and has passed 50 arcminutes below the horizon; during civil twilight, this occurs approximately 34 arcminutes below the horizon; atmospheric refraction further affects how visible the Sun’s path across the sky.

There are various stages of twilight, each lasting a different amount of time. The first begins as soon as the Sun disappears below the horizon, providing photographers with an excellent opportunity to capture portraits. The second twilight begins just above or just below the horizon and still offers enough light for people to see, while the third stage occurs when the sun’s rays can still be seen and the sky appears almost black, yet still light enough for seeing clearly.

If the proposed year-round daylight saving time becomes law, winter will become darker still. That would mean the Sun wouldn’t set until after 5 pm and rise after 7 am – forcing most people to wake up in darkness while also making it challenging for students to arrive at school before it gets light out.

People living at latitudes more significant than 40 degrees experience their first sunset of the year on December 7 and the latest sunrise on January 5. These times do not vary as dramatically from those further north, where evening and light occur later throughout winter – though their geometry overshadows clock effects at this stage; clock effects will eventually dominate once spring arrives.