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What Is the Difference Between Sunset and Sunrise? (Difference Explained)

What Is the Difference Between Sunset and Sunrise? (Difference Explained)

Sunrise and sunset are two of the most stunning and mesmerizing natural phenomena that occur on a daily basis and are difficult to ignore.

Both of these phrases have something to do with the sun. By glancing at the terms sun-rise and sun-set, you might have guessed it already. Both occurrences are critical for the survival of humans, plants, animals, and other lifeforms because they help invigorate the environment and impart a strong sense of energy that keeps the ecosystem operating on a daily basis.

Despite the fact that each of these concepts is conceptually distinct, individuals frequently misunderstand them. People often get confused between sunset and sunrise.

To distinguish between sunset and sunrise, it’s important to know the differences between them and what are the factors that make them different from each other.

In this article, I’ll tell you what are the differences between sunset and sunrise.

What Is Sunset?

Sunset is also called sundown. Sunset happens in the evening when the upper limp disappears under the horizon. In the evening, the rays start to become deformed to an extent that the solar disk goes under the horizon due to high atmospheric refraction.

The evening twilight is distinct from daytime twilight. In the evening, there are three stages of twilight. The first stage is referred to as “civil twilight,” in which the sun sinks 6 degrees below the horizon and continues to drop.

Nautical twilight is the second stage of twilight. In which the sun descends to 6 to 12 degrees below the horizon during astronomical twilight, while the sun descends to 12 to 18 degrees below the horizon during astronomical twilight, which is also the last stage.

The actual twilight, known as “Dusk,” follows astronomical twilight and is the darkest time of the twilight. When the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon, it becomes completely black or night.

The shortest wavelength beams of white sunlight are dispersed by the beam of air molecules or dust particles as they pass through the atmosphere. Longer wavelength rays are left behind, allowing the sky to appear red or orange as they continue to travel.

The number of cloud droplets and big air particles present in the atmosphere determines the color of the sky after sunset.

Sunset in Evenings
Sunset happens in the evening

What Is Sunrise?

Sunrise, often known as the “sun rising,” is the moment or period in the morning when the sun’s upper limb becomes visible on the horizon. Sunrise occurs when the sun disc crosses the horizon, causing several atmospheric effects in the process. 

From the human eye’s perspective, the Sun appears to “rise.” People only know that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, but they are unaware of the process that causes this daily phenomenon.

The sun doesn’t move, the Earth does. This movement causes the sun to change direction in the morning and evening. Sunrise, for example, is only visible when the sun’s top limb crosses the horizon. 

When the sky starts brightening but the sun isn’t up yet, it’s called morning twilight. “Dawn” is the name given to this period of twilight. Because the air molecules in the atmosphere disperse white sunlight as soon as it hits Earth’s atmosphere, the sun seems faded at sunrise compared to sunset.

When white photons pass through the surface, most of the shorter wavelength components, such as blue and green, are eliminated, while longer-wavelength rays are stronger, resulting in orange and red when the sun rises. As a result, the spectator can only see these colors during sunrise.

Sunrise Happens in Morning
Sunrise happens in the morning

What Is the Difference Between Sunset and Sunrise?

Sunset and Dawn are distinguished by the fact that sunset happens in the evening and sunrise occurs in the morning. The sun remains in the sky during the morning, but it vanishes and the sky goes entirely dark during sunset. ‘Twilight’ is the name given to this period of the evening.

Sunsets occur in the evening, and they always face west. Every day, the sunset lasts nearly 12 hours. As time passes, the intensity of the sun’s beams reduces. Once it’s past midday, the environment begins to cool and a cool wind arrives. Sunsets are never harmful to the skin or the body. Rather, they chill them out.

Whereas, sunrise occurs in the morning and always rises in an easterly direction, staying in the sky for over 12 hours. As time passes, the sun’s rays get more intense. The sun is at its brightest at noon. People who go out at this time of day risk getting severe sunburns and headaches.

Apart from that, since evening air contains more particles than morning air, sunset colors are often more vibrant than dawn hues. A green flash can be seen soon before sunrise or just after dusk. 

To give you a more clear idea about the differences between sunrise and sunset, here’s a table:

Parameters of ComparisonSunriseSunset
OccurrenceSunrise happens in the morning at the beginning of the daySunset happens at the busiest time of the day which is the evening
DirectionSun always rises from the east and this process isn’t reversibleSun always sets in the west and the process isn’t reversible
TwilightSun rises in the morning twilight when sunlight appears in the sky and this transitional duration is known as “Dawn”Sunset occurs in the evening twilight when the sun has fully vanished and moonlight has appeared. The time period is known as “Dusk”
Atmospheric temperatureSunrise temperatures are higher because the refraction is lessDuring the sunset, the temperature is moderate since the reflection of cool air is high
AppearanceSunrises are yellowish because, at the start of the day, there are minute levels of aerosols and pollutants in the atmosphere. Thus, the yellow sky appears.Most of the time, sunsets are reddish or orange in color because the number of aerosols and pollutants in the atmosphere rises as the day progresses due to ongoing human activity during the day. The atmospheric conditions are altered by these particles. As a result, at sunset, you’ll notice the orange or red light.
Comparison between sunrise and sunset.
Differences between Sunrise and Sunset


  • Sunrise happens in the morning, while sunset occurs in the evening.
  • Sunset happens in the west direction, whereas, sunrise happens in the east direction.
  • Dawn happens before sunrise and marks the start of twilight. Dusk, on the other hand, is the period of twilight that follows sunset. 
  • The Sunset sky appears more brilliant and richer in either orange or red hues, whilst the sunrise sky appears with softer colors. This is owing to the fact that air contaminants shift from day to night.

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