Does The Sun Actually Rise In The East?

The illusion of the Sun rising is due to a rotating reference frame whereby the Earth’s motion causes the Sun to come into view. That aside, is it true that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west?

Sunrise is commonly defined as being when the upper limb of the solar disk appears, but actually occurs at 90.83° from its zenith because atmospheric refraction shifts the Sun’s image above the horizon by a little over its own diameter, dependent upon atmospheric conditions.


The exact timing of each sunrise is determined by the longitude, latitude and altitude of its beholder in conjunction with factors such as the axial tilt and rotation of Earth, its elliptical orbit around the Sun, and variable orbital speed.

However, it occurs due east only on the March and September equinoxes. From March until September it is in the northeast quadrant and gets earlier each day in the northern hemisphere until summer solstice, while from September until March it is in the southeast quadrant and gets later towards winter solstice.