Why Does the Sun "Rise" and "Set"?
Exploring the Earth's Daily Cycle

Here's what scientists say about "sunrise" and "sunset":

The sun stays in its position at the center of our solar system. It doesn't rise and set. But it appears to rise and set because of the Earth's rotation on its axis. It makes one complete turn every 24 hours. It turns toward the east.

As the Earth rotates toward the east, it looks like the sun is moving west.

As the Earth rotates, different locations on Earth pass through the sun's light. The animation shows how that looks hour by hour (for 4 hours). As your town turns toward the sun and begins to enter its light, the sun seems to rise in the east. As your town begins to leave the sun's light and enter darkness, it appears to set in the west.

Try this!
Shine a flashlight on the side of a ball and rotate the ball counterclockwise. (You can figure out which way to turn it by looking down on the ball from above and thinking of a clock face.) Watch what happens to the light and dark areas as the ball turns. This is what happens on the earth as it rotates toward the east (counterclockwise).

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