Sidereal time is a "time scale based on Earth's rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed stars".
Because the Earth moves in its orbit about the Sun, a mean solar day is about four minutes longer than a sidereal day. Thus, a star appears to rise four minutes earlier each night, compared to solar time. Different stars are visible at different times of the year.
By contrast, solar time is reckoned by the movement of the Earth from the perspective of the Sun. An average solar day (24 hours) is longer than a sidereal day (23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds) because of the amount the Earth moves each day in its orbit around the Sun.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST], Time and Frequency Division. Time and frequency from A to Z.