PHP library for basic astronomical computation (sun and moon rise and set, moon phases, …)
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SunCalc PHP

SunCalc is a tiny PHP library for calculating sun position, sunlight phases (times for sunrise, sunset, dusk, etc.), moon position and lunar phase for the given location and time, based on the JavaScript library created by Vladimir Agafonkin (@mourner).

Most calculations are based on the formulas given in the excellent Astronomy Answers articles about position of the sun and the planets. You can read about different twilight phases calculated by SunCalc in the Twilight article on Wikipedia.

Usage example

// initialise library class with date and coordinates today's sunlight times for Paris
$sc = new SunCalc(new DateTime(), 48.85, 2.35);

// format sunrise time from the DateTime object
$sunTimes = $sc->getSunTimes();
$sunriseStr = $sunTimes['sunrise']->format('H:i');

// get position of the sun (azimuth and altitude) at today's sunrise
$sunrisePos = $sc->getPosition($sunTimes['sunrise']);

// get sunrise azimuth in degrees
$sunriseAzimuth = $sunrisePos->azimuth * 180 / M_PI;


Sunlight times

SunCalc :: getSunTimes()

Returns an array with the following indexes (each is a DateTime object):

Property Description
sunrise sunrise (top edge of the sun appears on the horizon)
sunriseEnd sunrise ends (bottom edge of the sun touches the horizon)
goldenHourEnd morning golden hour (soft light, best time for photography) ends
solarNoon solar noon (sun is in the highest position)
goldenHour evening golden hour starts
sunsetStart sunset starts (bottom edge of the sun touches the horizon)
sunset sunset (sun disappears below the horizon, evening civil twilight starts)
dusk dusk (evening nautical twilight starts)
nauticalDusk nautical dusk (evening astronomical twilight starts)
night night starts (dark enough for astronomical observations)
nadir nadir (darkest moment of the night, sun is in the lowest position)
nightEnd night ends (morning astronomical twilight starts)
nauticalDawn nautical dawn (morning nautical twilight starts)
dawn dawn (morning nautical twilight ends, morning civil twilight starts)

SunCalc::times property contains all currently defined times.

Sun position

SunCalc :: getSunPosition(/*DateTime*/ $timeAndDate)

Returns an object with the following properties:

  • altitude: sun altitude above the horizon in radians, e.g. 0 at the horizon and PI/2 at the zenith (straight over your head)
  • azimuth: sun azimuth in radians (direction along the horizon, measured from south to west), e.g. 0 is south and M_PI * 3/4 is northwest

Moon position

SunCalc :: getMoonPosition(/*DateTime*/ $timeAndDate)

Returns an object with the following properties:

  • altitude: moon altitude above the horizon in radians
  • azimuth: moon azimuth in radians
  • distance: distance to moon in kilometers

Moon illumination

SunCalc :: getMoonIllumination()

Returns an array with the following properties:

  • fraction: illuminated fraction of the moon; varies from 0.0 (new moon) to 1.0 (full moon)
  • phase: moon phase; varies from 0.0 to 1.0, described below
  • angle: midpoint angle in radians of the illuminated limb of the moon reckoned eastward from the north point of the disk; the moon is waxing if the angle is negative, and waning if positive

Moon phase value should be interpreted like this:

Phase Name
0 New Moon
Waxing Crescent
0.25 First Quarter
Waxing Gibbous
0.5 Full Moon
Waning Gibbous
0.75 Last Quarter
Waning Crescent

Moon rise and set times

SunCalc :: getMoonTimes($inUTC)

Returns an object with the following indexes:

  • rise: moonrise time as DateTime
  • set: moonset time as DateTime
  • alwaysUp: true if the moon never rises/sets and is always above the horizon during the day
  • alwaysDown: true if the moon is always below the horizon

By default, it will search for moon rise and set during local user's day (from 0 to 24 hours). If $inUTC is set to true, it will instead search the specified date from 0 to 24 UTC hours.


0.0.0 — 30 Dec, 2015

  • First commit.