Sun and Seasons | Sun Path Model | Sun Angles

Sun Paths

Sun Paths
The Earth orbits around the Sun. But from the Earth, it looks like the Sun rises in the East, travels across the sky, and then sets in the West.

These pictures show the sun's path during the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.

You can make a model of sun paths, with this list of materials.

Here are some ideas for a study of the sun's motions in the sky, and of the seasons.

  • Look in a reference book like the Farmer's Almanac for sunrise and sunset times
  • Measure the height of the sun in the sky using shadows. Do this every week throughout the year.
summer sun path

Making the Sun Path model

  1. Show prevailing wind directions and speed with paper arrows
  2. Show the number of sunny and cloudy days
  3. Show the amount of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, and so on)
  4. Make movable thermometers to show average and extremes of temperature
  5. Take photos of each month as you model it, and then put them on the wall in order.


winter sun path

Things to find out
As the seasons change, see if the Sun rises and sets in different places on the horizon. Why doesn't the Sun just rise and set in the same place?

The days are shorter in Winter, and longer in Summer. Why? What do you think causes that?

On a certain day in Spring, and a certain day in Fall, the Sun rises exactly due East, and set exactly due West. These days have a special name -- Equinox -- because on those days, the length of the day and the length of the night is exactly equal.

Do you know which day the next Equinox is?

Can you guess what "Summer Solstice" means? How about "Winter Solstice"?

spring and fall sun path

The architects in our office use this Sun Path model to show people how the sun will shine into their house in different seasons.

We used a piece of plywood for the base, a coat hanger for the sun's path, and a practice golf ball made of foam for the sun.

We drilled holes in the base so that we can move the sunpath for the seasons.

The little wooden house can rotate. It has windows just like the Energy House -- big windows on one side and small ones on the opposite side. In that way we can show people the best way to design their house so that the sun will help heat it in winter.

Did You Know.....
the word "NEWS" means all the new stories that come from the North, East, West and South!

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