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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dawn is sometimes considered the beginning of morning twilight (as depicted here), sometimes the period of
twilight, and sometimes the time of sunrise.

Skyline of Prague at dawn

Serra dos rgos National Park, in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, at dawn.

Dawn (from an Old English verb dagian "to become day") or astronomical dawn is the time that
marks, depending on the specific usage, the beginning of the twilight before sunrise,[1][2] the period
of the pre-sunrise twilight or the time of sunrise. [2] When identified as the beginning of or the
period of twilight, it is recognized by the presence of weak sunlight, while the Sun itself is still
below the horizon.
Types of dawn[edit]

Civil, nautical, and astronomical dawn, when defined as the beginning time of the corresponding twilight.[3] For
dusk, read dawn.

Different definitions exist for the start of dawn. The difference between these definitions is the
amount of sunlight that must be present. This can be correlated with the angular distance of the
centre of the Sun (degrees) below the horizon, in the morning:
Astronomical dawn[edit]
Main article: Twilight Astronomical twilight
Astronomical twilight begins at the moment after which the sky is no longer completely dark after
astronomical dawn. This occurs when the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon in the morning.
Though it is possible to localize the direction of the Sun during astronomical dawn and dusk,
astronomical dawn and dusk are night, even without clouds. The zenith is extremely dark and
more than just the brightest stars can be seen (except low above the horizon in the direction of
the sun).
Nautical dawn[edit]

Beginning of nautical dawn, Joshua Tree, California, United States

Main article: Twilight Nautical twilight

Nautical twilight begins at the time at which there is enough sunlight for sailors to distinguish the
horizon via sea but artificial light will be needed to perform outdoor activities; formally, when the
Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Nautical Dawn is still quite dark and is
considered night.[4]
Civil dawn[edit]

Civil dawn in Southern California, United States

Main article: Twilight Civil twilight

Civil twilight begins at the time at which there is enough light for most objects to be
distinguishable, so that some outdoor activities but not all can commence; formally, when
the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon in the morning.[4] At civil dawn there is some darkness
and at the zenith. The sky is still a bit dark and civil dawn is still considered night.

Effects of latitude[edit]
The duration of the twilight period between first light and sunrise varies greatly depending on the
observer's latitude, from a little over twenty minutes in equatorial regions, to many hours in polar
regions, to several weeks at the poles.
All phases of dawn and dusk are shortest at the equator, where the Sun at equinox rises and
sets at a right angle to the horizon; the steps between civil, nautical, and astronomical dawn or
dusk correspond to only 24 minutes each. At all places on the earth, dawn and dusk times are
fastest around the equinoxes and slowest at the summer and winter solstices.
Polar regions[edit]
See also: Midnight sun
As the calendar approaches the summer or winter solstice, the days or nights, respectively, get
longer, which can have a potential impact on the time and duration of dawn and dusk. This effect
is more pronounced closer to the poles, where the Sun rises at the spring equinox and sets at
the autumn equinox, with a long period of dawn/dusk, lasting for a few weeks.
The polar circle (at 6630 N or S) is defined as the lowest latitude at which the Sun does not set
at the summer solstice. Therefore, the angular radius of the polar circle is equal to the angle
between the plane of Earth's equator and that of the ecliptic. This period of time with
no sunset lengthens closer to the pole.
Near the summer solstice, latitudes higher than 5430 get no darker than nautical dawn/dusk;
the "darkness of the night" varies greatly in these latitudes.
At latitudes higher than about 5920, summer nights get no darker than civil dusk or dawn. This
period of "bright nights" is longer at higher latitudes.
Dawn at La Silla Observatory, Chile[5]

Around the summer solstice for instance, Glasgow, Scotland at 5551 N and Copenhagen,
Denmark at 5540 N get a few hours of "night feeling", Oslo, Norway at 5956 N and Stockholm,
Sweden at 5919 N seem very bright all the time the Sun is below the horizon. When the sun
gets 9.0 to 9.5 degrees below the horizon (at summer solstice this is at latitudes 57305700),
the zenith gets dark even on cloud-free nights (if there is no full moon); more than just the
brightest stars are clearly visible in a large majority of the sky.