**The Sun as a Time-Keeper**. Because the Earth’s orbital motion is not uniform, there are corresponding variations in the apparent speed of the Sun as it travels round the earth. For this reason, the true Sun (the Sun that we see in the sky) does not give an accurate measurement of time and to overcome this problem, the Mean Sun, as defined below, is used.

**The Mean Sun** is an imaginary body which is assumed to move at a uniform speed round the Earth thereby giving a uniform progression of time.

**Solar Time.** The true sun gives us apparent solar time while the mean sun gives us mean solar time.

**The Equation of Time****. ** To enable us to connect mean solar time with apparent solar time, we have the Equation of Time which is defined as follows:

**Equation of Time = mean solar time – apparent solar time**

In other words, the equation of time is the difference between apparent solar time and mean solar time taken at the same instant at one place.

**Example. **An observation of the Sun is made at 11h 05m 22s GMT on 26August 2009. What is the apparent solar time?

The Eqn. of Time on that date is -01m 55s.

Eqn. of Time = mean solar time – apparent solar time.

so** **apparent solar time = mean solar time – Eqn. of Time.

= 11h 05m 22s – (-)01m 55s

Therefore, apparent solar time = 11h 07m 17s

**Notes.**

- The equation of time can be either positive or negative depending on the time of the year.
- The values range from approximately +15 to -15 mins.
- The values are positive from 15
^{th} April to 14^{th} June and from 1^{st} September to 24^{th}December.
- The values are negative from 15
^{th} June to 31^{st} August and from 25^{th} December to 14^{th}April.

The following chart illustrates this information.

Tables which accurately show the equation of time for each day of the year can be found in the various versions of the nautical almanac and also on the Internet.

**Relevant links: **

The Survival Sundial

Sidereal Time

Time Difference Between Meridians of Longitude

A comprehensive exposition of this subject can be found in the following book: Astro Navigation Demystified.

www.astronavigationdemystified.com

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