Why There is Day and Night
Why There is
As told by
Before there were people, there were only the animals and the birds.
And in those days, the day and the night were exactly the same. One
time, when Rabbit was going along, he began to think about the days and
the nights and how they were alike and how there wasn’t enough light.
And then, in a loud voice, he said, «There is not enough light. I can
not see where I’m going. I need more light.»
Just then, Rabbit heard a voice, and it said, «There is plenty of
light.» Rabbit could not see who was talking and so he called out «Who is
there, who is speaking to me?» «It is I. It is Owl. And I say there
is enough light in the world.» Then Rabbit said, «Well I say there is
not enough light, and I will call the animals together. We will have a
council. And I will ask them. I will ask them if they think there is
enough light and they will agree with me and then you will know that
there is not enough light in the world. » But then Owl said, «I will
invite all the birds of the air. We will join in the council and then
you will see that the birds will agree with me and then you will note
that there is enough light in the world.»
Well, all the animals and all the birds came together and they all sat
around in a great circle and waited for Rabbit and Owl to speak.
Rabbit stepped forward and said «There is not enough light in the
world. We need more light.» Then Owl stepped forward and then he said,
«There is too much light. We do not need more light.»
Well, with that, all the animals and birds began to talk to one
another. Bear said that there was way too much light, that he liked to
sleep in the dark and, if there were more light, it would interrupt his
rest. Some of the birds said that they wanted more light so that they
could see to gather twigs for their nests. Racoon said that he agreed
with Owl. Racoon did not want light. Frog said that there was
enough light, and that he couldn’t sing well when there was too much
light. Then Buffalo said that, with so little light, he couldn’t find
enough grass and that he was often hungry. Then all of the animals and
birds began to talk at once. Some of them agreed with Owl and some of
them agreed with Rabbit.
Finally, Rabbit and Owl decided that they would settle the argument by
seeing which of them had the strongest medicine. And whoever had the
greatest power, well, that person would have his way. So Owl began to
say «Night, night, night, night.» And then Rabbit spoke faster, «Light,
light, light, light.» And then Owl spoke even faster, «Night, night,
night, night.» Rabbit’s friends warned him, «Rabbit, do not say Owl’s
word, or it will be night all the time.» And Owls’ friends warned him,
«Owl, be careful. Do not say Rabbit’s word or there will be light all
Owl was saying «Night, night, night, night, night, night, night….»
when he heard his friends say the word «light». And he accidentally
said, «Night, night, night, night, light . .. oh, oh,» said Owl. But it
was too late, he had already said the word «light».
And so it was that Rabbit won. And since that time, the day has had
lots of light. But because some of the animals could not hunt or sleep
with so much light, Rabbit declared that part of the time would be
night after all. And that is why, in these days, we have both day and
Variants found throughout North American Indian lore
Tale courtesy of
Background was created by Brad Snowder of the
Western Washington University Planetarium .
Used with permission.
The raven is a head-dress produced by the Haida tribe.
It is owned by the Department of Anthropology,
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Institutes. Washington D.C. The photographer is Don Eiler.
Analysis: Why day and night aren’t equal length on an equinox | UCL News
PhD candidate Osnat Katz (UCL Science & Technology Studies) describes how the bending of light and the Sun’s size means that even on an equinox, day and night are not exactly equal.
Winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere are both coming to an end. That means the days and nights are becoming roughly equal in length, and the path the Sun traces across the sky is changing.
On a winter day, the Sun is low in the sky, whereas on a summer’s day the Sun lies considerably higher. But on a specific day in the spring or autumn, the Sun will be visible directly above the equator, somewhere in the middle of the two arcs traced by the Sun in the summer and winter.
This is what’s called the equinox, and there are two each year. Around 20 March we have the vernal equinox or March equinox, also known as the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. Then around the 22 or 23 September is the autumnal or September equinox.
The word “equinox” comes from the Latin words aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night. But day and night are not exactly equal length on the equinox. To understand why, we need to know what causes the equinox in the first place.
The reason we on Earth have equinoxes at all is because the Earth’s axis is tilted. The Earth spins around an imaginary line running through it called its axis. If the axis pointed straight from top to bottom, at a right angle to the direction of Earth’s orbit around the sun, the intensity of the light shining on Earth’s hemispheres would be the same all year round, and we wouldn’t have seasons.
Some planets in our solar system are like this – for example, Venus’ axis points nearly straight from top to bottom.
Earth is not like Venus. Instead, Earth’s axis is knocked somewhere on its side – the technical name for this is “axial tilt”, and this tilt is responsible for both the seasons and the equinox. As the Earth spins on its axis and orbits the Sun, the intensity of the sunlight reaching different parts of the Earth’s surface changes. This is why we have seasons here on Earth.
Earth’s axial tilt also means that our planet’s equator is tilted relative to the plane of its orbit around the Sun – what astronomers call the “plane of the ecliptic”. When the centre of the Sun’s disc perfectly crosses the equator, astronomers define this as the equinox. This happens twice a year, once in late March and once in late September.
Not quite equal
You might think that the lengths of the day and night would be equal during the equinox. As it turns out, this is only approximately true. The lengths of the day and night aren’t quite the same, and there are two reasons for this.
Firstly, the Sun has a size – it’s not just a point in the sky. This seems obvious, but it affects how scientists measure sunrise and sunset. Technically, sunrise starts when the upper edge of the Sun meets the eastern horizon, and sunset ends when the upper edge of the Sun sinks below the western horizon. Because the Sun is not a point, and has upper and lower edges, this means that the equinox has a slightly longer day than night.
Secondly, the Earth’s atmosphere refracts (bends) sunlight. When light passes from one medium to another, its path changes. Sunlight travels through the vacuum of space, and when it travels through Earth’s comparatively denser atmosphere, it bends.
This bending means that we can see the upper edge of the Sun several minutes before it touches the eastern horizon, and it also means that we can see the upper edge of the Sun several minutes after the Sun has sunk under the western horizon. This adds even more time onto daylight during the equinox.
What’s more, the bending changes depending on the temperature and pressure of the atmosphere, so the lengths of the night and day on the equinox are only ever approximately the same at any point on Earth.
There are days around the time of the equinox, where day and night are equal length. These are called equilux, and when they happens depends on latitude. In the UK in 2021, this happened on 17 March.
This piece was first published in The Conversation on 18 March 2021.
- Original article in The Conversation
- UCL Science & Technology Studies
- UCL Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences
Day and night
Author: Dmitry Sirotkin
Phraseologism «day and night» — about endless activity .
Natural — like the course of a river , or not so much — like a maniac’s thought.
Next, the meaning and origin, synonyms, as well as sentences with phraseological units from the works of writers are considered.
Meaning of a phraseological unit
Day and night — all the time, constantly, continuously
Synonymous idioms: both day and night, around the clock, all year round, day and night
There are analogues of this expression in foreign languages:
- day and night, a far cry (English)
- Tag und Nacht (German)
- (le) jour et (la) nuit (French)
The origin of the phraseological unit
Apparently, the phraseological unit «day and night» arose, as they say, in a natural way, from observing the passage of time.
A day consists of day and night, so the continuity of the process of work, movement, etc. perfectly conveyed by the expression «day and night. »
Sentences from the works of writers (A. Pushkin, «Ruslan and Lyudmila» ) — by the way, Pushkin quotes
Pfeyfersha molested Melancholy day and night, especially pursuing him with correspondence, which, despite the short time, was already a rather extensive volume. (M. Saltykov-Shchedrin, “The History of a City”) — by the way, quotes from Saltykov-Shchedrin
It was riding, or, to put it better, galloping day and night from St. Petersburg to Vozdvizhenskoye Marie. Her son, who had just recovered, was traveling with her, a boy of ten years old. (A. Pisemsky, «People of the forties»)
You pray day and night under the bells, but you don’t know who you pray to (M. Gorky, “Egor Bulychov and others”) — by the way, Gorky’s quotes
I decided to look around my haven — the house, the prisoner of which I became for three days, doomed day and night to listen to how the sea rolls pebbles. (A. Saint-Exupery, “You can believe in people . ..”) — by the way, quotes from Saint-Exupery
Don’t let your soul be lazy!
So that you don’t grind water in a mortar,
The soul must work
And day and night, and day and night! (N. Zabolotsky, «Don’t let your soul be lazy»)
I have been working day and night for ten years. He earned well, and we lived no worse than people. And the children delighted: all three studied with excellent marks … (M. Sholokhov, «The Fate of a Man») — by the way, Sholokhov’s quotes
Phraseologism «day and night» is well suited to active, hardworking people. But in general, there is some unhealthy maximalism in it .
Further you can get acquainted with phraseological units with «day» and phraseological units with «night», as well as with other phraseological units:
- tooth misses
- corner red
- look for trouble
- white bull tale
- swan song
- kondratiy enough
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What is Day and Night?
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