Dawn – Definition


The first appearance of light in the eastern sky before sunrise. It marks the beginning of morning twilight. The visual display is created by the scattering of light reaching the upper atmosphere prior to the sun’s rise to the observer’s horizon.


The daily appearance of the sun on the eastern horizon as a result of the earth’s rotation. In the United States, it is considered as that instant when the upper edge of the sun appears on the sea level horizon. In Great Britain, the center of the sun’s disk is used instead. Time of sunrise is calculated for mean sea level.


Often called dusk, it is the evening period of waning light from the time of sunset to dark. The time of increasing light in the morning is called dawn. Twilight ends in the evening or begins in the morning at a specific time and can be categorized into three areas of decreasing light. Civil twilight is the time in the evening when car headlights need to be turned on to be seen by other drivers. Nautical twilight is when the bright stars used by navigators have appeared and the horizon may still be seen. Astronomical twilight is when the sunlight is still shining on the higher levels of the atmosphere, yet it is dark enough for astronomical work to begin. During dawn, the reverse order occurs until full daylight.


The process by which small particles suspended in the air diffuse a portion of the incident radiation in all directions. This is a primary reason for colors, such as blue skies, rainbows, and orange sunsets. When working with radars, this often refers to the more or less random changes in direction of radio energy.


The gaseous or air portion of the physical environment that encircles a planet. In the case of the earth, it is held more or less near the surface by the earth’s gravitational attraction. The divisions of the atmosphere include the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the ionosphere, and the exosphere.


One of several lines or planes used as reference for observation and measurement relative to a given location on the surface of the earth. The geographic horizon, also called the apparent horizon, is the distant line along which earth and sky appear to meet. This is the usual concept of horizon and is used in weather observing. The local horizon is the actual lower boundary of the observed sky or the upper outline of terrestrial objects including nearby natural obstructions, such as mountains.