When Does It Get Dark? When Do The Fireworks Start?

Photographers feast on early morning and early evening illumination. Summer brings us more hours of daylight and consequently more shooting time. But exactly when does the sun come up in your town? And how can you determine what time the sun sets in a city you are about to visit?

The U.S. Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications Department, hosts a website where you can enter a specific date and the name of any U.S. city and learn all the Sun and Moon data you’ll ever want to know. Follow this link and request information for Tucson, AZ on July 4, 2017, for example, and you’ll discover the following:

“Civil twilight” means that there is enough light to clearly distinguish the horizon (weather permitting) and identify objects without using artificial illumination.

Live or visiting outside the U.S.? Go to the same Navy website and use Form B. Enter the city and country name (or latitude/longitude coordinates) and similar data is delivered. But be aware that the times are Universal Time, not the local time zone, so you’ll have to do some calculating. UTC, formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time, indicates the correct time at the Prime Meridian at Greenwich, London, UK. Work backwards from there.

So—if you were wondering when the fireworks begin on Independence Day in sunny Tucson, you now know that the sun will set around 7:34PM MST and it will be dark about 28 minutes later.

— Jon Sienkiewicz