Talk:Solar zenith angle

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Which text books?[edit]

This article was renamed because one editor thought the term was more common in the textbooks he uses. What about books on solar energy or navigation? What about those who are interested in the interference from the Sun with transmissions from geosynchronous satellites? Where was the seeking of consensus before making this move? Which term is a layman more likely to search for? I disagree with this move. - Ac44ck (talk) 02:56, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Sure, thanks for opening discussion on this. I'm very open to reverting this change if solar elevation angle is more appropriate. A quick Google scholar check finds
Results on google books similarly favour solar zenith angle as the more common phrase. However, I am not an expert in this field and am quite happy to accept my ignorance of the most common name. Do you think the two concepts are sufficiently different to warrant two separate pages, or do you think the current situation with one page for the two terms is best? Gareth Jones (talk) 13:27, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
Google Ngram for these terms seems to favour solar zenith angle also. I agree that elevation is an easier term (indeed, I only learnt 'zenith' earlier this week), but it does seem like the common term in the English language (WP:COMMONNAME). Gareth Jones (talk) 14:03, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
Leaving off the word 'angle' in Google searches:
It seems that "solar elevation" is the most common term in general use.
I change my recommendation to renaming the article "Solar elevation." - Ac44ck (talk) 19:21, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Maybe larger numbers of people Google terms they find unfamiliar because they are less used.
My own preference is for "elevation". This word is used in many circumstances, many having nothing to do with the Sun. I get e-mails from NASA telling me when and where the International Space Station is visible from here. The maximum angle of elevation is stated, not the zenith angle. When I was a high-school math teacher, we taught the kids about angles of elevation, not (usually) about zenith angles. Surveyors use angles of elevation. I think navigators do too.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:44, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I didn't know this was available. Leaving off the word "angle", then "Solar altitude" in this case-sensitive search was the clear leader until recently:
http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Solar+zenith%2CSolar+elevation%2CSolar+altitude&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=
Using the word "angle" seems unnecessary in many contexts when referring to solar altitude or solar elevation. - Ac44ck (talk) 01:55, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes. The term "solar altitude" is widely used. It makes me a bit uncomfortable, though, because I feel that an altitude is a distance, so the sun's altitude is about 150 million kilometres. But the word "elevation" is generally understood to be an angle.
I think the article should be called "Solar elevation", with redirects to it from "Solar altitude", "Solar zenith angle" and maybe others.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:13, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
Either 'elevation' or 'altitude' is fine with me. I don't recall being concerned about how far from vertical the Sun is in the sky. I do notice how high the Sun is in the sky. I understand the possible utility of the zenith angle, which avoids any complication due to bumps in the horizon based on azimuth. But the zenith angle seems more likely to be a derived value. True, it is the direction of a plumb line (neglecting gravitational anomalies), but I use a level much more often than a plumb line. - Ac44ck (talk) 14:06, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
I favor 'Solar altitude' as the name for this article. Reconsidered on 5 May 2013 as noted above. It seems that this term regained some relative traction in looking beyond 2000, when the previous graph ended:
http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Solar+zenith%2CSolar+elevation%2CSolar+altitude&year_start=1900&year_end=2010&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=
The spikes in use of the term seem to parallel surges in interest in solar energy. 'Solar altitude' would seem to be most familiar to laymen.
Both 'altitude' and 'elevation' are often distances. As 'elevation' can also be a verb, I think there is less potential for confusion in the name 'Solar altitude.' - Ac44ck (talk) 14:29, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
It's strange that nobody has yet suggested using the word "height". Of course, it doesn't really matter what the title of the article is, so long as there are plenty of redirects from all plausible alternatives. DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:48, 4 May 2013 (UTC)