Local time and solar time are both ways to understand time. Solar time was the traditional method of knowing the time, whereas local time evolved later on as the specifications of country borderlines came into play.
- Local time is based on the time zone of a particular region or country.
- Solar time is based on the sun’s position in the sky and differs for each longitude.
- Local time can be adjusted for daylight saving time, while solar time cannot.
Local Time vs Solar Time
The difference between solar and local time is that local time is more reliable as it stays the same in the location, whereas solar time can differ.
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Local time is the time that is based on the area’s location. This changes as one moves from one place to another. Local time is a more standardized way of measuring time, whereas solar time is a local method.
Solar time is affected by location and the time of the year. The exact time can be different according to the season it is being measured in, as the rotation of the Earth was an affecting factor. This is because the days are longer in summer and shorter in winter.
|Parameter of Comparison||Local Time||Solar Time|
|Basis of Calculation||It is purely based on location in which the time is being seen.||It is based on location as well as the time of the year.|
|Reliability||It is more reliable as one factor affects it.||It is less reliable than local time, as time can vary over the year.|
|Comparison facilitation||Local time easily facilitates the comparison of time between countries.||The solar time differs and cannot be used to compare time between countries.|
|Application||It is a widely used means to measure time.||It is not as widely used as Local Time.|
|Introduction||It was introduced on November 18, 1883.||It was a widely used method before the introduction of local time and was applied in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.|
|Measurement||It is measured using clocks that are set according to time zones.||It is measured using sundial or other traditional methods.|
What is Local Time?
The local time was introduced on November 18, 1883, by railroads in Canada and the U.S. Sir Sandford Fleming proposed this system of measuring time.
Before this, time measurement was based on more natural means like solar time, which caused a lot of confusion. It was devised from solar time to overcome the variation caused by the later time measurement.
Local time became necessary to ensure precision and facilitate comparison between different locations. It is only affected by one factor, which is location.
It was introduced to ensure smooth operations of railways and forecasting of weather. The local time of every area is called the time zone.
Across the globe, there are more than 24 time zones. Sir Fleming recommended having 24 time zones based on one-hour differences.
But some timezones only have a 30 or 45-minute difference, which caused these time zones to increase. This integrated the world, unlike solar time, which was more of a local thing.
Times zones are ahead or behind the Coordinated Universal Time.
UTC is the standard time and is not a time zone. It acts as a basis for measuring the differences in time according to locations. The world’s normal time is GMT, which stands for Greenwich Mean Time.
What is Solar Time?
Solar time is the method of measuring time based on the sun’s position. Such clocks were known as sundials.
It is already known that due to Earth’s rotation, there are differences in day and night over the globe; solar time could not make for this difference.
It was a subjective method of measuring time based on how the person measuring time observed the sun. A pole was placed in the ground, and the time was determined based on the shadow it cast.
This method of measuring time could not be used at night, which made it inefficient.
Clepsydras were used to measure solar time, a name for water clocks. Over the year, there were differences in the time measured using solar time, as the days were longer in summer and shorter in winter.
This confused me and was more like a local way of measuring time. The usage of solar time was eradicated because of the improvement in global connections and a need for a more standardized method of reckoning time.
Main Differences Between Local Time and Solar Time
- Both local and solar time is based on location, but solar time is also affected by the time of the year, which causes measurement errors.
- Local time can facilitate comparison, whereas solar time cannot.
- Local time is a more reliable method of measuring time as it is more precise, whereas solar time causes measurement differences due to changes in days.
- The local time was introduced way later, and solar time was commonly relied upon before that time.
- The local time is measured using the clocks set according to the time zone of each location. This is based on the meridian that the location chooses, also called the line of longitude. Solar time is measured using a sundial, which can be created quickly and requires daytime measurement.
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.