The time between daylight and darkness is often referred to as twilight, but what exactly is the definition of evening and when does it begin? The answer to this question is not as simple as you might think. Twilight varies depending on location, season, and many other factors. In this article, we will explore the different types of twilight, when evening officially begins, and some interesting facts about this mysterious time of day.
Types of Twilight
Before we can delve into the definition of evening, we need to understand the different types of twilight. There are three distinct phases of twilight:
- Civil Twilight: This is the period immediately after sunset or before sunrise when there is still enough sunlight to see clearly. During civil twilight, the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon.
- Nautical Twilight: This is the period between civil twilight and astronomical twilight when the sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon. It is called nautical twilight because sailors used this time to take readings of the stars to determine their location.
- Astronomical Twilight: This is the period between nautical twilight and full darkness when the sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon. During astronomical twilight, most stars and planets become visible.
Each type of twilight varies in length depending on location and time of year. For example, the further north or south you are, the longer twilight will last during certain times of the year. In areas near the equator, twilight is relatively short.
When Does Evening Begin?
The beginning of evening is a bit more subjective than the different types of twilight. Evening typically begins when the sun has set and it begins to get dark. However, there is no official definition of when evening begins. Some people consider evening to start when civil twilight ends and others consider it to start when the sky is completely dark.
Another definition of evening is the time between sunset and bedtime. This is the period when most people wind down after work and spend time with family or engage in leisure activities.
Interesting Facts About Twilight
The Blue Hour
The blue hour is the period of twilight when the sun is below the horizon and the sky takes on a blue hue. This is a particularly beautiful time of day for photographers who use this period to capture stunning blue-hued landscapes and seascapes.
The Golden Hour
The golden hour is the period just after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is soft and golden, making it ideal for photography. During this time, shadows are longer, and the light is often referred to as magic hour.
Twilight and Animal Behavior
Many animals are active during twilight. For example, bats, which are nocturnal animals, begin to flutter around during civil twilight, while some birds start their morning songs during nautical twilight.
The Twilight Zone
The twilight zone is the area between sunlight and darkness. This is the zone where the ocean becomes darker and deeper and is often referred to as the mesopelagic zone. This area is home to many bioluminescent creatures that emit light to attract prey or scare off predators.
Taking into consideration the different types of twilight, the beginning of evening can vary depending on location, season or the observer’s interpretation, resulting in a subjective definition. Twilight has its own beauty and mystery, from the blue and golden hours to the animal behavior and the bioluminescence in the twilight zone. Understanding the different stages of twilight can offer a deeper appreciation of nature’s cycles and the beauty that comes with knowing about them.
Most Common Questions About Evening
- Q: What is the difference between civil and nautical twilight?
A: Civil twilight is the period of time immediately after sunset or before sunrise when there is still enough sunlight to see clearly. Nautical twilight is the period between civil twilight and astronomical twilight when the sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon.
- Q: When does evening officially begin?
A: Evening typically begins when the sun has set and it begins to get dark. However, there is no official definition of when evening begins.
- Q: What is the difference between the golden hour and blue hour?
A: The golden hour is the period just after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is soft and golden, making it ideal for photography. The blue hour is the period of twilight when the sun is below the horizon and the sky takes on a blue hue.
- EarthSky, “What Is Twilight?” EarthSky, 29 June 2021, https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/what-is-twilight.
- Grey, Emma. “What Is Twilight?” Washington Post, WP Company, 2 June 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/02/what-is-twilight.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Twilight Factors.” NESDIS Office of Satellite and Product Operations, 26 July 2016, www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/twilight.html.