Difference Wiki

Sunrise vs. Sunset: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 18, 2023
Sunrise is the daily appearance of the sun above the horizon in the morning, while sunset is the evening event of the sun disappearing below the horizon.

Key Differences

Sunrise marks the beginning of the day, occurring when the upper limb of the Sun appears above the horizon. In contrast, sunset signifies the day's end, happening when the Sun fully disappears below the horizon.
Sunrise brings increasing light, signaling the start of daytime activities. Sunset, conversely, leads to darkness, marking the transition to nighttime.
The colors seen during sunrise, often softer and more subtle, are influenced by the angle of the sun and atmospheric conditions. Sunset colors tend to be more vibrant and dramatic due to dust and particles accumulated in the atmosphere throughout the day.
Sunrise time varies depending on geographic location and time of year, generally earlier in eastern areas. Sunset time also varies, occurring later in western areas and changing with the seasons.
Sunrise is associated with new beginnings and optimism, often used metaphorically to signify hope. Sunset, in contrast, is frequently seen as a symbol of closure, rest, or the passage of time.

Comparison Chart


Morning, when the sun appears above the horizon
Evening, when the sun goes below the horizon

Lighting Transition

Brings light, marking the start of the day
Leads to darkness, indicating the end of the day

Typical Colors

Softer, more subtle hues
Vibrant, dramatic hues

Time Variation

Varies, generally earlier in eastern locations
Varies, typically later in western locations

Symbolic Meaning

New beginnings, hope
Closure, rest, end of a phase

Sunrise and Sunset Definitions


Timing varies based on geographic location and season.
During summer, the sunrise in our city is quite early.


Often represents closure, rest, or the passage of time.
The movie concluded with a symbolic sunset scene.


Often symbolizes new beginnings and hope.
The novel's ending with a sunrise symbolized renewed optimism.


The evening event of the sun disappearing below the horizon.
The sunset painted the sky in shades of orange and purple.


Marks the start of the day, bringing increasing light.
The sunrise brought a warm glow to the cold landscape.


Signifies the transition from day to night.
As the sunset, the city lights began to twinkle.


The moment the sun appears above the horizon in the morning.
We woke up early to watch the sunrise at the beach.


Timing changes with geographic location and season.
In winter, the sunsets here are remarkably early.


Characterized by specific atmospheric colors and light.
The artist captured the sunrise's soft hues in her painting.


Associated with vibrant and dramatic colors.
Photographers gathered to capture the stunning sunset.


The event or time of the appearance of the upper circumferential edge of the sun as it rises above the horizon, typically the eastern horizon except for extreme latitudes.


The event or time of the disappearance of the upper circumferential edge of the sun as it sets below the horizon.


The sky as the sun rises
Saw a beautiful sunrise.


The sky as the sun sets
A rosy sunset.


What is sunrise?

Sunrise is the moment when the upper limb of the Sun appears on the horizon in the morning.

Why does sunrise color vary?

The color of sunrise varies due to atmospheric conditions like dust, pollution, and humidity scattering sunlight.

Does sunrise time change throughout the year?

Yes, sunrise time varies throughout the year, occurring earlier in summer and later in winter.

Is sunrise the same time everywhere?

No, sunrise time differs based on geographic location and time zone.

What factors affect the time of sunrise?

The time of sunrise is affected by the observer's geographical location and the time of year.

Does the time of sunset change daily?

Yes, the time of sunset changes slightly each day, getting earlier or later depending on the time of year.

Is the sunrise time on a mountain different from sea level?

Yes, sunrise occurs earlier on a mountain due to its elevation compared to sea level.

Can sunrise time be predicted accurately?

Yes, using astronomical calculations, sunrise time can be predicted accurately.

What is civil twilight in relation to sunrise?

Civil twilight is the period before sunrise when the horizon is still visible and outdoor activities can occur without artificial light.

Why is sunset often red or orange?

Sunset often appears red or orange due to the scattering of shorter wavelengths and the remaining red and orange hues.

Is sunset at the same time around the world?

No, sunset times vary globally due to differences in geographical location and time zones.

What's the difference between sunset and dusk?

Sunset is the actual time the Sun sets, while dusk is the period of decreasing light that follows sunset.

Do seasons affect sunset colors?

Yes, seasons can affect sunset colors due to variations in atmospheric conditions like humidity and air purity.

What is a 'false sunrise'?

A false sunrise is an optical illusion where the sun seems to rise earlier than it actually does, often due to atmospheric refraction.

What is sunset?

Sunset is the moment when the Sun disappears below the horizon in the evening.

How is sunset time calculated?

Sunset time is calculated based on the observer's latitude, longitude, and the Earth's axial tilt.

What is the 'green flash' phenomenon at sunset?

The 'green flash' is a rare optical phenomenon where a green spot is briefly visible above the Sun as it sets, caused by atmospheric refraction.

Can sunset be observed from space?

Yes, astronauts in space can observe sunsets, but they experience it differently due to the lack of Earth's atmosphere.

Can sunset affect mood or behavior?

Yes, the colors and ambiance of sunset can have calming effects and influence mood positively.

Can we observe sunrise at the poles?

At the poles, sunrise occurs just once a year, marking the end of a prolonged period of darkness in winter.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons