8A10.70 - Sunrise - Sunset/Refracted Sun

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Sunrise - Sunset/Refracted Sun
Earth Inclination and Position on Earth
Area of Study:
8" X 8" X 2" high block, 2 L bottle full of water, 1 or 2 large coins.

Place the coins behind the block and back away from the block until you can no longer see the coins.  Place the bottle horizontally in the middle of the block and the coins will reappear when looking through the water filled bottle.  This demonstration simulates the effects of refraction in the atmosphere which allows you to see sunrises before or sunsets after they actually occur.

  • Edward Pascuzzi, "Capturing the Anti-Sun", TPT, Vol. 35, # 9, Dec. 1997, p. 553.
  • Jinsong Cui, "A Demonstration of the Apparent Ellipticity of the Rising or Setting Sun", TPT, Vol. 29, # 9, Dec. 1991, p. 566.
  • F. Jaquin, K. Steele, D. Hafemeister, "The Apparent Ellipticity of the Setting Sun", TPT, Vol. 20, # 6, Sept. 1982, p. 404.
  • Z. Neda and S. Volkan-Kacso, "Flatness of the Setting Sun", AJP, Vol. 71, # 4, April 2003, p. 379.
  • Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and the staff of the Exploratorium, "Green Flash", Exploratopia, p. 187.
  • D. Tattersfield, "Demonstrations on the Setting Sun", Projects and Demonstrations in Astronomy", p. 107.
  • Jearl Walker, "Distortions of the Low Sun", The Flying Circus of Physics", p. 250.
  • Janice VanCleave,  "Riser",  200 Gooey, Slippery, Slimy, Weird, & Fun Experiments, p. 9.
  • Janie VanCleave, "41. Mirage", Astronomy for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work", p. 90.
  • Sara Stein, "The Sun Appears Before It Rises", The Science Book, p. 192.
  • Julius Sumner Miller, Q215 & A215, Millergrams II – Some More Enchanting Questions for Enquiring Minds, p. 66 & 114.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.