# Subsolar point

The subsolar point on a planet is the point at which its Sun is perceived to be directly overhead (at the zenith);[1] that is, where the Sun's rays strike the planet exactly perpendicular to its surface. It can also mean the point closest to the Sun on an astronomical object, even though the Sun might not be visible.

To an observer on a planet with an orientation and rotation similar to those of Earth, the subsolar point will appear to move westward with a speed of 1600 km/h, completing one circuit around the globe each day, approximately moving along the equator. However, it will also move north and south between the tropics over the course of a year, so will appear to spiral like a helix.

The subsolar point contacts the Tropic of Cancer on the June solstice and the Tropic of Capricorn on the December solstice. The subsolar point crosses the Equator on the March and September equinoxes.

## Coordinates of the subsolar point

The subsolar point moves constantly on the surface of the Earth, but for any given time, its coordinates, or latitude and longitude, can be calculated as follows:[2]

${\displaystyle \phi _{s}=\delta ,}$ ${\displaystyle \lambda _{s}=-15(T_{\mathrm {GMT} }-12+E_{\mathrm {min} }/60).}$

where

• ${\displaystyle \phi _{s}}$ is the latitude of the subsolar point in degrees,
• ${\displaystyle \lambda _{s}}$ is the longitude of the subsolar point in degrees,
• ${\displaystyle \delta }$ is the declination of the Sun in degrees,
• ${\displaystyle T_{\mathrm {GMT} }}$ is the Greenwich Mean Time or UTC, in decimal hours since 00:00:00 UTC on the relevant date
• ${\displaystyle E_{\mathrm {min} }}$ is the equation of time in minutes.

## Observation in specific locations

Approximate subsolar point dates vs latitude superimposed on a world map, the example in blue denoting Lahaina Noon in Honolulu