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Dawn vs Dusk [What Is The Difference Between The Two?]

Dawn and dusk, terms that you will often here used to describe different times of day or night. But what do they mean; how are they different? I spent some time researching to find out. Here is what you need to know.

So, what is the difference between dawn vs dusk? Dawn and dusk refer to different periods of transition. Dawn is the period of transition from night to day whereas dusk is the transition period from the evening to the night. Dawn sees the emergence of sunlight whereas dusk the emergence of darkness.

Dawn and dusk are therefore quite different.

They’re kind of opposites in many ways.

At least in the time of the day.

But interestingly enough, these periods also share quite a few similarities too.

So, let us now take a closer look at how they compare!

What Is Dawn?

Dawn is the words used to describe the first appearance of light that appears in the the sky before the sun rises.

From an astronomical perspective, dawn marks the beginning of twilight.

At this time, the sun will still be below the horizon, so sunlight is still relatively sparse and the landscape quite dim.

Dawn is often classified into three different phases.

  • Astronomical dawn the period when the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. During this time, the sky will not be entirely dark.
  • Nautical dawn the period where the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. With more light, it is possible to start to observe objects and items.
  • Civil dawn is the period where the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. This is when you can begin to do things without supplemental street lighting.

Dawn only occurs during the morning.

What Is Dusk?

Dusk is the term that is used to describe the transition from the day to the night.

It occurs after sunset, once the top of the Sun has passed down below the horizon.

From an astronomical perspective, dusk begins at the very end of astronomical twilight. It’s the darkest period.

Dusk will become night-time at the moment the Sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon.

Difference Between Dawn And Dusk

The main difference between dawn and dusk is that dawn only occurs in the morning, dusk only occurs in the evenings.

Beyond this, dawn is associated with light and the start of a new day, whereas dusk is associated with darkness and the end of the day.

Symbolically, dawn is a time of new beginnings, peace and tranquility.

Dusk on the other hand is often a symbol for busyness, excitement and enthusiasm.

Typically, people wake up and start their day slowly around dawn. Generally doing so alone.

Dusk is a time of socializing, eating, drinking and being together.

That being said the exact time of dawn and dusk will differ depending on the location on Earth.

Similarities Between Dawn And Dusk

The main similarity between dawn and dusk is that they are distinct short periods we all experience each day. They both mark and symbolize transition.

Astronomically, they both occur when the sun is below the Horizon, and they similarly share a similar level of sunlight which is relatively dim.

Aesthetically, the sky also looks relatively similar during both dawn and dusk and these are both considered periods to observe for their beauty.

How Many Hours Is Dusk To Dawn?

There is typically around 12 hours between dusk and dawn.

Dusk will generally begin around 30 minutes after sunset.

Whereas dawn will begin around 30 minutes before sunrise.

Of course, both of these times will vary somewhat depending on your latitude, the date, and the weather.

However, 12 hours is a fair and general estimation between the two.


As you can see, dawn and dusk are quite clearly different periods, even if they both mark the transition from day to night and vice versa.

The best way to remember the difference is that dawn occurs in the morning, dusk in the evening.