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Next September (2014) I will fly on vacation from São Paulo (GRU) to Doha (DOH), leaving at 02:45 (Brazil local time) and arriving at 23:00 (Qatar local time). Assuming that the flight has 13h duration, and that in Brazil, the sun rises at 6:00 (3 hours after departure), I'm in doubt… Will I see the first (and the last) sun shines from the Atlantic Ocean? Is there some tool that brings me this information based on flight times and places?

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11  
Simple rule, Westbound flights: sun is on slow motion, Eastbound flights: sun is on fast forward. –  MeNoTalk May 26 at 15:18

3 Answers 3

up vote 25 down vote accepted

I just found the right tool for you (SUN TIMES), it does exactly what you want, it shows the path along with the day/night status in the exact position of the aircraft. It is a Windows Application (from the days they used to call it program), click on the Aviation --> Flight Plotter menu.

Here is a screenshot (the large red dot is the plane):

gru-doh

And to answer the first part, you will have the sunrise above the ocean, the sunset somewhere above eastern Africa.

Disclaimer: I am not the owner of the tool, I found it by searching, I scanned it and it seemed fine. Use it at your own risk.

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Nice, thank you. –  Diogo May 26 at 16:52
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Nice, pity they use such a horrible projection, can that be configured? –  gerrit May 26 at 18:43
    
@gerrit not sure, it is a very complicated program, lots of parameters everywhere. I will play with it a bit and let you know later. –  MeNoTalk May 26 at 19:30

Both sunset and sunrise move east to west. When it's the wee hours of the morning in Brazil, the sunrise is east of you, in Europe where it's already morning, and headed your way with 3 or 4 hours to reach you if you stood still. Since you're flying east, you're flying in darkness towards the sunrise. Once you reach it, over the Atlantic, you'll be flying in daylight towards the sunset, which is also moving towards you. I am not sure where you will meet that, but perhaps it will be over the ocean as well. The last part of your flight will be in darkness.

The earth is about 24,000 miles in circumference at the equator, so sunrise and sunset move across the earth at 1000 miles per hour there, slower as you get further from it. Your plane will probably be going about 600 miles per hour, so if you're flying straight east, the day (time between sunrise and sunset) will be about 2/3 the normal length and fit entirely into your 13 hours of flight.

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This is nice general information, anyway it does not answer the two parts of the question. –  MeNoTalk May 26 at 15:43
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@MeNoTalk It answers the question in the title: the flight will not be entirely at night. –  David Richerby May 26 at 15:49
    
@DavidRicherby really? so what's the point behind adding a question body? you should suggest that on MSE, removing the body! –  MeNoTalk May 26 at 16:30
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@MeNoTalk Yes, really. There are four questions, one in the title and three more in the body: will the flight be entirely at night, will the asker see sunrise over the Atlantic, will the asker see sunset over the Atlantic and is there a tool that can be used to find these things out? Kate has answered the first of these questions (and strongly implied an answer to the second). A partial answer is much better than no answer at all. –  David Richerby May 26 at 16:56

You can use Google Earth to calculate this:

  • Assume a great circle path
  • Search for the start and end locations and draw a great circle between them
  • Switch on the day/night function
  • Move the date/time slider to the particular time of the flight at departure, then move it to landing

(If I remember, I will add screenshots later today)

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That would give you the time of sunrise and sunset at sea level, right? –  Relaxed May 26 at 15:48
    
@Relaxed Yes, although you could also place the camera at a particular location and elevation and see exactly where the Sun is relative to the observer, at any place and time. –  gerrit May 26 at 16:47

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