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In astronomy, declination (abbrev. dec or ) is one of
the two coordinates of the equatorial coordinate system,
the other being either right ascension or hour angle.
Declination in astronomy is comparable to geographic
latitude, but projected onto the celestial sphere.
Declination is measured in degrees north and south of
the celestial equator. Points north of the celestial
equator have positive declinations, while those to the
south have negative declinations.
An object on the celestial equator has a declination
of 0.
An object at the celestial north pole has a declination
of +90.
An object at the celestial south pole has a
declination of 90.
The sign is customarily included even if it is positive. Any unit of angle can be used for declination, but it is often
expressed in degrees, minutes, and seconds of arc.
A celestial object that passes over zenith has a declination equal to the observer's latitude. A pole star therefore has
the declination near to +90 or 90. At northern latitudes >0, celestial objects with a declination greater than
90 are always visible. Such stars are called circumpolar stars, while the phenomenon of the Sun not setting is
called midnight sun.

Because a star lies in a nearly constant direction as viewed from Earth, its declination is approximately constant from
year to year. However, both the right ascension and declination do change gradually due to the effects of precession
of the equinoxes, proper motion, and annual parallax.

Varying declination
The declinations of all solar system objects change much more quickly than those of stars.

The declination of the Sun, , is the angle between the rays of the Sun and the plane of the Earth's equator. The
Earth's axial tilt (called the obliquity of the ecliptic by astronomers) is the angle between the Earth's axis and a line
perpendicular to the Earth's orbit. The Earth's axial tilt changes gradually over thousands of years, but its current
value is about = 2326'. Because this axial tilt is nearly constant, solar declination () varies with the seasons and
its period is one year.
At the solstices, the angle between the rays of the Sun and the plane of the Earth's equator reaches its maximum
value of 2326'. Therefore = +2326' at the northern solstice and = 2326' at the southern solstice.
At the moment of each equinox, the center of the Sun appears to pass through the celestial equator, and is 0.
The Sun's declination is equal to the inverse sine of the product of sine of Sun's maximum declination and sine of
Sun's tropical longitude at any given moment. Instead of computing the Sun's tropical longitude, if we need Sun's
declination in terms of days, the following procedure may be used.

Since the Earth's orbital eccentricity is quite low, its orbit can be approximated as a perfect circle:

where the cosine operates on degrees; if the cosine's argument is in radians, the 360 in the equation is replaced with
2. In either case, the formula returns in degrees.
is the number of days elapsed since January 1.
An alternative form is given as:[1]

A more precise formula is given by:[2]


is the fractional year in radians.

More accurate daily values from averaging the four years of a leap-year cycle are given in the Table of the
Declination of the Sun [3].

See also

Celestial coordinate system

Geographic coordinate system
Lunar standstill
Setting circles

External links
Table of the Declination of the Sun: Mean Value for the Four Years of a Leap-Year Cycle [3]
Declination function for Excel, CAD or your other programs. [4] The Sun API is free and extremely accurate. For
Windows computers.
How to compute planetary positions [5] by Paul Schlyter.

[1] Desmond Fletcher (2007). "Solar Declination" (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20080524032606/ http:/ / holodeck. st. usm. edu/
vrcomputing/ vrc_t/ tutorials/ solar/ declination. shtml). . Retrieved 2010-02-18.
[2] J. W. Spencer (1971). Fourier series representation of the position of the sun (http:/ / www. mail-archive. com/ sundial@uni-koeln. de/
msg01050. html). .
[3] http:/ / www. wsanford. com/ ~wsanford/ exo/ sundials/ DEC_Sun. html
[4] http:/ / www. sunlit-design. com/ products/ thesunapi/ documentation/ sdxDecl. php
[5] http:/ / www. stjarnhimlen. se/ comp/ ppcomp. html

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors

Declination Source: Contributors: Ac44ck, Alberto Orlandini, Alfio, AlwaysWrite, Anddrrew, Andre Engels, Anton Gutsunaev,
Antzervos, Archer7, Arthena, Astrologist, Avjoska, B.d.mills, Bebenko, Berserkerus, Bronger, CALR, Chris Dybala, Chromosome, Conversion script, CosineKitty, DMG413, DOwenWilliams,
Dhaluza, Dkreisst, Drilnoth, Dungodung, Eco751, Epbr123, Evil Monkey, Fuper, Geof, Hurricane111, Icairns, Ja 62, Janneok, Jc3s5h, Jerzy, Jimp, Julesd, Katymeehan, Kbarox, Kesuari,
KnightRider, Kristaga, Kwekubo, Laurascudder, Lerdsuwa, Lir, Lismoreboy, Looxix, Mejor Los Indios, Michael Hardy, Minna Sora no Shita, Mishuletz, MistySpock, Modeha, Njk92, Numbo3,
Patrick, Pizza Puzzle, Ponder, RJHall, RedWolf, Rigadoun, Roland Longbow, Rpresser, Sam Hocevar, ScAvenger lv, Scriber, Shijualex, Smartech, SteveMcCluskey, Sverdrup,
TheObtuseAngleOfDoom, Vinay Jha, Vsmith, White Trillium, Wiki-Ed, , , 63 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

Image:Equatorial coordinates.png Source: License: unknown Contributors: Geof at en.wikipedia
Image:Sun-declination.png Source: License: GNU Free Documentation License Contributors: Original uploader was
Sverdrup at en.wikipedia

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