What Sets the Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night Apart?

What distinguishes the morning, the afternoon, and the evening? And where, amid all of this, does night fall? These terms, in essence, describe several intervals of a 24-hour day. When does one begin and the other stop, though?

Morning, noon, evening, and night

Even though it’s widely agreed that morning ends at noon, or 12 pm, some people define morning as any time that occurs between 12 am and 11:59 am. This is especially true given that some people believe morning officially begins at dawn. The boundaries of the afternoon, evening, and night are more arbitrary.

Afternoon, as its name suggests, starts at 12 pm and lasts for a number of hours. Evening starts when the afternoon does. Some people define evening as the period of time between dinner and bedtime, while others define it as the time between the onset of dusk and the end of the day’s light.

The start and end times of the evening will vary depending on the season if your perception is more in line with the patterns of the sun. For example, a winter evening may begin about 5 pm, while a summer evening may start between 6 and 7 pm.

Finally, darkness, or the time between sunset and daybreak, is connected to night. The length of the night may vary depending on the season.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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