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A composite satellite image of the earth at night

Night or nighttime is the period of time when the sun is below the horizon. The opposite of night is day (or "daytime" to distinguish it from "day" as used for a 24-hour period). The start and end times of night vary based on factors such as season, latitude, longitude and timezone.


Duration and geography

Nights are shorter than days on average due to two factors. One, the sun is not a point, but has an apparent size of about 32 minutes of arc. Two, the atmosphere refracts sunlight so that some of it reaches the ground when the sun is below the horizon by about 34 minutes of arc. The combination of these two factors means that light reaches the ground when the centre of the sun is below the horizon by about 50 minutes of arc. Without these effects, day and night would be the same length at the autumnal (autumn/fall) and vernal (spring) equinoxes, the moments when the sun passes over the equator. In reality, around the equinoxes the day is almost 14 minutes longer than the night at the equator, and even more towards the poles. The summer and winter solstices mark the shortest and the longest night, respectively. The closer a location is to either the North Pole or the South Pole, the larger the range of variation in the night's length. Although equinoxes occur with a day and night close to equal length, before and after an equinox the ratio of night to day changes more rapidly in high latitude locations than in low latitude locations. In the Northern Hemisphere, Denmark has shorter nights in June than India has. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctica has longer nights in June than Chile has. The Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the world experience the same patterns of night length at the same latitudes, but the cycles are 6 months apart so that one hemisphere experiences long nights (winter) while the other is experiencing short nights (summer).

Between the pole and the polar circle, the variation in daylight hours is so extreme that for a portion of the summer, there is no longer an intervening night between consecutive days and in the winter there is a period that there is no intervening day between consecutive nights.

On other celestial bodies

The phenomenon of day and night is due to the rotation of a celestial body about its axis, creating the illusion of the sun rising and setting. Different bodies spin at very different rates, however. Some may spin much faster than Earth, while others spin extremely slowly, leading to very long days and nights. The planet Venus rotates once every 224.7 days – by far the slowest rotation period of any of the major planets. In contrast, the gas giant Jupiter's sidereal day is only 9 hours and 56 minutes.[1] A planet may experience large temperature variations between day and night, such as Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. This is one consideration in terms of planetary habitability or the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Impact on life

Bats are just one of the thousands of species of animals that are active during the night.

The disappearance of sunlight, the primary energy source for life on Earth, has dramatic impacts on the morphology, physiology and behavior of almost every organism. Some animals sleep during the night, while other nocturnal animals including moths and crickets are active during this time. The effects of day and night are not seen in the animal kingdom alone; plants have also evolved adaptations to cope best with the lack of sunlight during this time. For example, crassulacean acid metabolism is a unique type of carbon fixation which allows photosynthetic plants to store carbon dioxide in their tissues as organic acids during the night, which can then be used during the day to synthesize carbohydrates. This allows them to keep their stomata closed during the daytime, preventing transpiration of precious water.

Humans and the night

Social and economic factors

A busy city at night time (Tehran).

Throughout the course of history, night has primarily been a time of resting and sleep for humans, since little work or labor can be done in the dark. On the other hand, clandestine activities such as romance, sex, prostitution, crime and police activity flourish.

As artificial lighting has improved, especially after the Industrial Revolution, night time activity has increased and become a significant part of the economy in most places. Many establishments, such as nightclubs, bars, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, gas stations, distribution facilities, and police stations now operate 24 hours a day or stay open as late as 1 or 2 a.m. Even without artificial light, moonlight sometimes makes it possible to travel or work outdoors at night. The phrase "The night is young" refers to the period when the sun is below the horizon and not the period before midnight.

Cultural aspects

Nótt, the personification of night in Norse mythology, rides her horse in this 19th century painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo.

Night is often associated with danger and evil, because of the psychological connection of night's all-encompassing darkness to the fear of the unknown and darkness's obstruction of a major sensory system (the sense of sight). Criminals, animals, and other potential dangers can be concealed by darkness.

The belief in magic often includes the idea that magic and magicians are more powerful at night. Similarly, mythical and folkloric creatures as vampires, and werewolves are thought to be more active at night. Ghosts are believed to wander around almost exclusively during night-time. In almost all cultures, there exist stories and legends warning of the dangers of night-time. In fact, the Saxons called the darkness of night the 'death mist'.[citation needed]

In literature, night and the lack of light are often color-associated with blackness which is historically symbolic in many cultures for villainy, non-existence, or a lack of knowledge (with the knowledge usually symbolized by light or illumination).

See also

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  1. ^ Seidelmann, P. K.; Abalakin, V. K.; Bursa, M.; Davies, M. E.; de Burgh, C.; Lieske, J. H.; Oberst, J.; Simon, J. L.; Standish, E. M.; P. C. (2001). "Report of the IAU/IAG Working Group on Cartographic Coordinates and Rotational Elements of the Planets and Satellites: 2000". HNSKY Planetarium Program. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Night may refer to:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NIGHT, that part of the natural day of twenty-four hours during which the sun is below the horizon, the dark part of the day from sunset to sunrise (see DAY). The word in O. Eng. takes two forms, neaht and night, the latter form apparently being established by about the 10th century. The word is common in varying forms to Indo-European languages. The root is usually taken to be nak-, to perish, the word meaning the time when the light fails (cf. Gr. vbcos, Lat. nex, death, nocere, to hurt). It was customary to reckon periods of time by nights, and we still use "fortnight" (O. Eng. feowertyne nilit, fourteen nights), but "se'n-night" (seven nights) has been displaced by "week" (q.v.).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun




  1. (paganism) The goddess of the night in Heathenry.


  • (pagan goddess) "In this prayer, Sigdrifa calls upon powers of Nature - Day, Night, Earth - and the gods and goddesses as a group." Our Troth, Ring of Troth and other True Folk, Ring of Troth, ISBN 0-962357-8-1, 1993, page 383.
  • (pagan goddess) "Hail to Night and her daughters. Teutonic Religion, Kveldulf Gundarsson, Llewellyn Publications, 1993, ISBN 0-87542-260-8, page 316.
  • (pagan goddess) "In another story, the Allfather, the original sky god from early Wyrd culture, took Night and her son Day, and gave to each of them a horse and chariot and put them in the sky, so that they should ride around the world every twenty-four hours. The Wisdom of the Wyrd, Brian Bates, Rider, 1996, ISBN 0-7126-7277-X, page 48.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Night can have 2 different interpretations, more commonly Spiritually, and occasionally, Literally.

Spiritually, A time without God, a time of darkness, of evil. A time lacking Light or order. A lack of direction.

Literally, Nighttime, the time from sunset to sunrise.

See Also

Simple English

A composite satellite image of the earth at night

Night or nighttime is the time when the sun is not in the sky. The opposite of night is day. The start and end times of night are different in different places. It varies on season, latitude, longitude and timezone. In popular culture, night is often thought of as a symbol of evil, possibly because of the fear of the dark.

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

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