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How much time until dark?

Using the fingers on your hand is a useful tip to estimate how much time you have before sunset.  This is especially helpful if you need to set-up your tent or get somewhere when you do not have a backup light source available.

How to calculate the hours to sunset using the fingers on your hand

  • Hold your hand up so the top part of your index finger just hits the bottom of the sun.  Keep adding fingers until you reach the horizon.  Use the other hand if needed (not the thumb).
  • Count your fingers.  Each finger represents 15 minutes.  This is approximately how much time until the sun lowers into the horizon.

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The sun moves 15 deg per hour or 1 deg every 4 minutes.  Each finger represents 3.75 deg, or 15 minutes.

Note: This method does not work for areas near the North and South Poles (generally above 50 degrees latitude) due to the Sun appearing for longer periods of time on the horizon.

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